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The Christmas Creek operation in Western Australia. Image: Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group now has 183 autonomous haul trucks operating across the Pilbara after the company finished a major project at the Chichester Hub in Western Australia.

The fleet of Cat 793F, 789D and Komatsu 930E autonomous haul trucks, at the Chichester and Solomon Hubs, have travelled more than 52 million kilometres, moving 1.5 billion tonnes of material since 2013.

Fortescue has also deployed 900 automated assets including excavators, wheel loaders and light vehicles that utilise CAT Minestar Command for Hauling technology, that is operated from the miner’s integrated operations centre in Perth.

“Mining is one of the most innovative industries in the world, and Fortescue continues to build on our leading autonomy capability to deliver productivity and efficiency benefits,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS (Autonomous Haulage System) technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the team achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program to the highest safety standards.

“Our approach to autonomy has been to be open and transparent with our plans and to work closely with our team members to offer opportunities for re-training and re-deployment. ”

Caterpillar group president, resources industries Denise Johnson congratulated Fortescue for its achievement.

“Fortescue is a leader in the implementation of autonomous solutions. This important milestone further reinforces the transformation Fortescue has made with autonomy to improve safety, site productivity and machine utilisation. We congratulate Fortescue on this significant achievement,” Johnson said.

According to Fortescue chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman, the autonomous haulage fleet has driven up productivity numbers.

“Fortescue’s autonomous haulage fleet has delivered a 30 per cent increase in productivity. Looking ahead, the flexibility of our efficient, multiclass autonomous fleet offers considerable potential for further productivity and efficiency gains,” he said.

“Our operations are more connected than ever before and by using data from our autonomous haulage fleet, we can paint an accurate picture of our operations and focus on the optimal opportunities for improvement, such as haul road design and maintenance scheduling.

“Our autonomous haulage system is a foundational tool which allows us to streamline processes and improve outcomes, ultimately delivering increased value for our shareholders.”