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Thiess has commenced fully autonomous hauling and drilling operations at Pembroke Resources’ Olive Downs Complex in Queensland.

Such operations include deploying 21 haul trucks and three drills that are fitted with autonomous technology, as well as deploying Caterpillar’s (Cat) MineStar Command for hauling and drilling solutions simultaneously – making this a world first.

Thiess has also established a private LTE (long-term evolution) network on Pembroke’s onsite communication infrastructure, which has enabled the safe operation of more than 85 connected assets within the autonomous operating zone.

“We’re pleased to achieve this milestone in collaboration with Pembroke Resources, Hastings Deering and Caterpillar and remain committed to operating the Olive Downs Complex to a global standard,” Thiess head of autonomy and operations technology Trent Smith said.

“This achievement also highlights Thiess’ ability to safely and efficiently transition from a greenfield site to a fully autonomous operation within 18 months, including exceeding our target of 6500 annualised hours within two months of kicking off autonomous hauling operations.”

Thiess has upskilled more than 280 team members to support the delivery of autonomous operations at the Olive Downs Complex, leading to improvements in safety, operating hours, cycle efficiency and cost.

At full capacity, the Olive Downs Complex is expected to operate 15 autonomous Cat 794 AC trucks, six autonomous Cat 793F trucks and three autonomous Cat MD6310 drills.

The autonomous operations at the site are expected to reduce diesel consumption to increase the lifespan of consumable components.

“With a dedication to achieving cleaner, more energy-efficient operations, Thiess, in collaboration with Hastings Deering and Caterpillar, is an ideal partner for Pembroke Resources as we seek to lower emissions,” Pembroke Resources chief executive officer Barry Tudor said.

“This achievement is a major step towards the goals of a sustainable autonomous mining solution and builds on our already strong environmental practices.”