WA mining technology key to unlocking new innovations in the resource sector, Minister says  

Innovation Minister Bill Marmion yesterday visited a range of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations, which boast one of the world’s largest fleet of automated trucks.

Image credit: www.riotinto.com
Image credit: www.riotinto.com

Upon touring the company’s facilities in the Pilbara, including the Greater Brockman operations near Tom Price, Mr Marmion remarked that the world-leading Western Australian mining technology provides “an important part of the knowledge base” that will drive WA’s expanding innovation sector.

“This expertise in automation, computing and problem solving provides an ideal springboard for broader innovation, which is exactly what the Liberal National Government’s $20 million innovation package seeks to encourage to help drive industries across the State,” he said.

“Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future programme is a cross-company, multi-commodity initiative to improve safety and productivity through the use of innovative automated technology. Western Australian workers are playing a vital part in the roll-out of this technology, which is helping to cement our State as a global centre for innovation in the resources sector.”

Rio Tinto’s iron ore group is the world’s largest operator of autonomous trucks, with 30 in use at Nammuldi and another 43 across the company’s Pilbara operations. The company also uses automated trucks at the Hope Downs 4 and Yandicoogina mines.

“These trucks have decreased load and haul operating costs by up to 13 per cent, and increased effective utilisation by up to 14 per cent compared with a manned fleet,” the Minister said.

“Seven fully autonomous drills are also in use across Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations, which use GPS technology to perform precise drilling work 24 hours per day.”

Mr Marmion said the company was taking concrete measures to install the world’s first fully autonomous, heavy haulage, long-distance rail system across 1,500 kilometres of its Pilbara network.

“Central to all of this work is the company’s Perth-based operations centre, which acts as a single “mission control” for all autonomous activities,” Mr Marmion concluded.

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