Newmont now uses 36 autonomous Cat 793F haul trucks, like the above, at Boddington mine in Western Australia. (Photo: Caterpillar)

Caterpillar reported Newmont’s Boddington mine in Western Australia has hauled more than 100 million metric tons (mt) of material autonomously using Cat MineStar Command. The mine’s $150 million autonomous haulage project that commissioned 36 autonomous Cat 793F haul trucks in 7 months achieved a “conversion to autonomous haulage” that was “one of the fastest in the industry,” Caterpillar said.

Currently, the mine’s fleet also includes four 793D staffed mining trucks.

The first 231-mt Cat 793F was converted to autonomous operation in March 2021. A total of seven trucks from Newmont’s existing fleet were retrofitted with Command for hauling. The other 29 trucks were new. In October 2021, the last of the trucks were in operation.

The mine reached the 100 million mt of material autonomously hauled benchmark by the end of October 2022.

The rapid completion of the project is a testament to the great teamwork between Cat personnel, its contractors, and Boddington personnel, Caterpillar said. “The supporting Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) projects will help to improve data understanding and drive operational excellence through data utilization,” said Kosie Bolton, technology site manager, Caterpillar.

The project also launched an AHS intelligence office at the site to manage more than 200 connected assets. The office supports all AHS team members and expedites teamwork, leadership at the mine said.

“We are extremely proud to deliver the gold industry’s first autonomous haul truck fleet at Boddington,” said James Earl, AHS control room superintendent, Boddington. “This will help extend the mine’s life, reduce safety risks and lower costs,” he said. “The project’s record implementation is just another example of Newmont’s trademark ability to set and achieve ambitious goals.”

Boddington, a deep open pit surface mine, delivered 696,000 oz of gold in 2021.

Separately, Caterpillar showcased a 777 with MineStar Command at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. The unit represented “more than 560 Cat autonomous trucks that each day travel a distance equivalent to twice the Earth’s circumference, without a driver,” Caterpillar said.

The truck, of course, dwarfed the autonomous cars and personal vehicles on display at the consumer electronics convention. Caterpillar offered four booth experiences to introduce the neophyte to its basic autonomous haulage concepts and solutions. Two addressed Cat’s leadership role in innovation in autonomous mining. One covered the company’s dedication to sustainability; and one focused on the people in technological innovation jobs at the company.

The company also showcased its remote-control solutions. At one station in the booth, dozer hundreds of miles away was controlled. A second station was remotely connected to an excavator.

The exhibit also showcased how Caterpillar is expanding autonomy to help lead the energy transformation. The supplier boasts of multiple initiatives involved in battery electric vehicle development, the company said.

“The next frontier for autonomy is helping mines manage power needs as more assets require electricity to operate,” said Denise Johnson, group president of Caterpillar Resource Industries. “People have seen us as an equipment company for more than a century, and they are now realizing that we are a high-tech company as well.”