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Industry-first product supports autonomous mining operations

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Dust control specialist Global Road Technology (GRT) is launching an industry-first platform developed specifically to support the optimal usage of autonomous vehicles and equipment across the mining sector.

Designed to work hand-in-hand with the autonomous haul and water trucks that are becoming increasingly prevalent at mine sites to drive productivity, the Australia Made GRT: Haul Loc Dust Control System effectively manages dust while helping to maintain the haul roads that are vital to the smooth running of mining projects.

It achieves this by reducing what the industry calls ‘slow’ or ‘stop’ events, where the self-driving vehicles are impacted by deteriorating road conditions caused by a variety of factors, including slippage (overwatering) and dust pollution that impacts motion sensors and other instruments required to direct the vehicles.

This in-turn hinders the ability of autonomous mining trucks to safely navigate the road, bringing their journey to a halt due to the inability of the self-driving software to successfully circumvent certain obstacles – an issue that can significantly impact the operations of an entire mine-site and its profitability.

According to GRT general manager Daniel Grundy, the GRT: Haul-Loc System is designed as a serviced hardware and product solution for resource companies that resolves a number of issues that can encumber the effective use of remote-controlled vehicles and equipment on mining sites.

“Usage of autonomous vehicles and equipment is transforming the entire resource sector as the Internet of Things (IoT) enables mining companies to drive profitability due to the fact that there is less downtime when humans are not required,” he said.

“However, the key challenge is that these ‘tools’ require optimum conditions to operate effectively and even the slightest obstacles whether dust pollution or road slippage will impede their ability to function. The reality is that mining sites are impacted by a range of environmental and physical factors ensuring that optimum conditions are not often achieved – this is where our SMART Dosing Units coupled with GRT: Haul-Loc comes in as it is designed to address the challenges that Autonomous Haul Trucks (AHT) encounter.”

The GRT: Haul-Loc System was developed by GRT as a specific response to address ineffective haul road maintenance that impacts the ability of the AHT’s to operate at maximum efficacy.

Some of the core issues that GRT: Haul-Loc addresses include reducing the need for water trucks (used to settle the dust caused by mining vehicles and activity) or graders (used to maintain the roads) to be in the vicinity of AHTs, reducing potential vehicle-on-vehicle accidents.

It also ensures that the AHT’s are not impacted by loss of traction as it reduces soil subsistence and ensures that the roads maintain their gradient – meaning that the vehicles do not detect rutting or spillage as obstacles which delays or halts their journeys until they successfully navigate the issue.

For Grundy, the benefits of Haul Loc are due to it exemplifying GRT’s ‘whole-of-site’ philosophy around dust control.

“Our entire approach is based on placing dust suppression as a core pillar in ensuring the operational effectiveness of a mine site,” he said.

“Dust control is critical due to the fact this is not just a hazard to workers, but also impacts the usage and application of the transformative technologies being developed to drive efficiencies across mine-sites. The GRT: Haul-Loc System is just the latest iteration of our approach to reducing dust as a hazard applied to the most advanced technology, that we’ve developed from our knowledge base developed from over a decade of working to reduce air pollution that sees it well placed to provide industry leadership in this space.

“Our ultimate goal is to eliminate dust as a worksite hazard via addressing the issues that cause its spread in the first place.

“It is validating for us as a business from an advocacy standpoint that the issue of particulate pollution is now of global importance and recognised as a major public health issue. Our work across Australia, and internationally sees us applying a best practice approach to managing dust as a hazard making us one of the few companies that create solutions that address the issue in a manner top ensure  that workers, communities, nearby farmers, and the environment aren’t negatively impacted by mining activity.”

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