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Image: Fortescue Metals Group

  • Fortescue has recognised its commitment to operational efficiency and safety with its autonomous haul (AHS) fleet moving two billion tonnes of material, doubling the amount hauled since September 2019.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the company was a leader in the implementation of autonomous haulage across its iron ore operations.

“Our fleet represents one of the largest in the world, with 79 trucks currently in operation at Solomon, 74 at Christmas Creek, and 40 at Cloudbreak,” she said.

“Moving over two billion tonnes of material without a driver at the wheel is a significant milestone and a reflection of Fortescue’s ongoing commitment to increasing operational efficiency through technology and innovation.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has led to significant safety improvements for our team members, with our fleet safely travelling over 70 million kilometres to date – the equivalent of 91 return trips to the moon.”

Last month Fortescue used Perth’s Resources Technology Showcase to demonstrate its autonomous Caterpillar MineStar Command fleet at the Christmas Creek operation.

Despite Christmas Creek being 1500 kilometres away in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, FMG operated a Cat dozer from the safety of the Perth Convention Centre.

According to a company statement, the continued expansion of autonomous capability across the business has demonstrated that autonomy doesn’t need to be at the expense of jobs, with the transition to autonomous haulage providing significant new opportunities for Fortescue’s workforce through the provision of training and redeployment to new roles.

“Significantly, the adoption of autonomous haulage has allowed us to relocate many traditional site-based roles to our integrated operations centre in Perth, providing opportunities for parents and women in particular to remain engaged in our workforce,” Gaines said.

“Today, almost 50 per cent of our workforce in the Fortescue hive are women.”

In 2012, Fortescue was the first company in the world to deploy Caterpillar’s autonomous haulage technology on a commercial scale at its Solomon Hub operations.

The fleet has since expanded across the company’s Pilbara operations with a total of 193 autonomous trucks now in operation.