BHP to introduce more autonomous trucks to sites in 2020

20 autonomous trucks will be added to the fleet at BHP’s Newman East iron ore mine in Western Australia by the end of 2020.

BHP have proven themselves to be on the leading edge when it comes to automating operations on their sites, with improved safety standards and cost cutting cited as motivation for their investments into the technology, according to Newman operations general manager Marie Bourgoin.

“Newman East is home to our innovation centre, so we’re already using technology there that helps us to be safer and more efficient,” said Bourgoin.

“Autonomous trucks were the next logical step.”

Automated trucking has become a somewhat controversial issue since improvements in the technology becomes more widely available, due to the predicted job cuts associated with handing over control to computers.

However, Bourgoin has assured staff that there will be no job losses due to the introduction of the 20 autonomous vehicles, and in fact 30 new permanent jobs will be made available.

“The new roles will plan the truck routes and operate the autonomous systems from a control centre, which will initially be located at the mine.

“New opportunities in truck maintenance and fuelling will also be created. 200 people in our local workforce will receive training, ranging from extensive technical training for those in new roles.”

Not only is the transition expected to bring new jobs to the region, but it is also expected to generate approximately $33 million in contracts to local businesses, through training development, engineering, construction and conversion and trailers contracts.

The latest announcement at the Newman East mine comes after it was decided to roll out the technology at the company’s Goonyella Riverside coal mine in central Queensland late last year.

The new trucks will begin arriving at the site as of June 2020.

Source: Australian Mining | BHP to roll out autonomous trucks at Eastern Ridge

5 March 2020