Tuesday 10th Dec, 2019

BHP to automate Goonyella Riverside coal mine

Image: Shutterstock

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has announced it will introduce autonomous trucks at the Goonyella Riverside coal mine in Queensland in 2020 with no jobs lost.

This conversion is expected to increase truck hours and deliver more consistent cycle times. It could also reduce exposure to safety risks and decrease significant events.

A fleet of up to 86 Komatsu trucks will undergo a staged conversion over the next two years, with the first trucks expected to be operational in the first half of 2020.

Goonyella Riverside will be the first BMA site to implement autonomous haulage.

BMA Asset President James Palmer said the introduction of autonomous haulage at Goonyella Riverside was the result of an extensive study and engagement with the workforce, community and government.

Related stories:

The company has talked to its workforce about the potential for increased automation for several months, reiterating its commitment to provide training opportunities for local workers.

“While the first autonomous vehicles will not operate at the site until 2020, and full roll out will take around two years, we want to give people in our workforce and the community as much notice as possible of this change,” Palmer said.

“Autonomous haulage will help us improve safety and productivity performance, and it is our people who will be at the centre of making this change a success.”

BMA plans to deliver more than 40,000 hours of training to help prepare for Goonyella Riverside’s autonomous future.

Palmer says that while automation represents a significant change, it also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new skills.

BMA has also recruited new permanent positions in operations and created new roles in preparation for the autonomous trucks.

Implementing autonomous haulage at the company’s other Queensland coal sites will be made on a site-by-site bases, according to BMA.

The news follows BHP’s deal with Komatsu to supply 41 autonomous trucks for the miner’s South Flank project, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.