Fortescue’s multi-class fleet travels more than 52 million kilometers and moves 1.5 billion metric tons of material. (Photo: Fortescue Metals)

Australian iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group celebrated an important milestone this week with the completion of its Chichester Hub autonomous haulage project. The project, which represents one of the largest fleet conversions to an autonomous haulage system (AHS) in the industry, has expanded the Fortescue AHS fleet to 183 haul trucks operating at Fortescue’s Solomon and Chichester hubs.

The multi-class fleet includes Cat 793F, 789D and Komatsu 930E haul trucks and has safely traveled more than 52 million kilometers (km) and moved 1.5 billion metric tons (mt) of material since 2013. An additional 900 assets, such as excavators, wheel loaders and light vehicles, are integrated and operated from the Fortescue Hive, the company’s integrated operations center in Perth, Western Australia.

“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 CEO Elizabeth Gaines said. “Most importantly, the introduction of AHS 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.

Gaines added that more than 200 people have been trained as mine controllers and AHS system professionals.

“Looking ahead, the flexibility of our efficient, multiclass autonomous fleet offers considerable potential for further productivity and efficiency gains,” Fortescue COO Greg Lilleyman 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.”

Lilleyman said Fortescue’s AHS fleet has delivered a 30% increase in productivity.