A total of 108 autonomous trucks will be converted at Fortescue’s Chichester Hub by September. (Photo: Fortescue)

Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) celebrated an important milestone in the rollout of autonomous haulage at the Chichester Hub with the conversion of the 100th autonomous truck. The full conversion of 108 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub, which comprises the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, is expected to be completed in September.

Since the introduction of its Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology at Fortescue in 2012, 168 trucks have been converted across the company’s Solomon and Chichester hubs. Fortescue’s autonomous haul fleet has moved around 1.4 billion metric tons (mt) of material and achieved a greater than 30% increase in productivity levels, according to the company.

“Fortescue’s AHS deployment represents the largest fleet conversion to autonomous haulage in the industry,” Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said. “Our history of embracing leading-edge technology has ensured Fortescue remains at the lowest end of the global cost curve and remains fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across our business to ensure we continue to deliver enhanced returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders.”

Gaines added that AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across its operations and the Automated Mining Projects team achieved the milestone with zero harm to any team members.

Workforce skills development has been a key aspect of Fortescue’s automation project, she said, with the company’s training and redeployment program successfully transferring or upskilling team members to new roles across the business.

“Training is at the heart of everything we do at Fortescue and as we continue the integration of autonomous trucks across our sites, this ethos has guided our efforts to ensure no redundancies due to automation and to deliver significant benefits to employees from the opportunities offered by this project,” Gaines said.

Fortescue claims to be the first company in the world to deploy CAT autonomous haulage on a commercial scale at the Solomon Hub and it said it was the first mining company to retrofit Cat’s Command for hauling on Cat 789D and Komatsu 930E haul trucks.