Mineral Resources (MRL) has achieved a successful demonstration run of its triple-trailer, automated road train platoon with each road train hauling 300 tonnes of iron ore.
In a world-first milestone, the demonstration showcased the success of the company’s autonomous road trains pilot project, which has been underway at its Yilgarn iron ore operations since late 2021.
MRL has partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.
MRL mining services chief executive Mike Grey said automating a road train platoon of this size had never been achieved before and he was delighted his company was leading the world with this ground-breaking innovation.
“It’s been an exciting journey over the past year and we’ve now achieved a world-first platoon of three autonomous road trains, which is a game changer for us,” Grey said.
“It’s an extremely proud moment to see our autonomous project grow from desktop concept to iron ore reality so quickly.”
According to the company, MRL is renowned for providing innovative and low-cost solutions across the mining infrastructure supply chain.
“Our autonomous road trains will form an essential part of the cost-efficient supply chain unlocking stranded resources in the Pilbara region as part of the Ashburton Hub iron ore project,” the company stated.
Grey said MRL had introduced a number of new technologies over recent years to enhance the safety and operational efficiency of our long-distance road train haulage fleet and the autonomous road trains would take us to the next level.
“The technology will initially be adopted for our own operations, with a view to offering the solution to our large Tier 1 customer base as we grow our Mining Services division,” he said.
“As we get ready for the Ashburton Hub iron ore project and look to unlock stranded tonnes of iron ore, our autonomous road trains will be the vital link between the pit and the port.
“As the first of its kind in the world, it opens up new opportunities for us, as we can trial the technology ourselves before offering it to our Tier 1 customers.”
Hexagon mining division president Nick Hare said Hexagon enjoyed working with MRL because of its ability to quickly bring ideas into production.
“We value the opportunity to demonstrate our position as a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions. Mineral Resources is an ideal partner for a project of this size and complexity,” Hare said.