Sunday 11th Apr, 2021

Rio Tinto deploys autonomous freight train in WA

Image credit: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto has completed the roll out of its autonomous freight train system across its iron ore operations in Western Australia.

AutoHaul completed its first successful run in the Pilbara region in July last year.

The system averages 34 trains a day by October last year and has since travelled more than one million kilometres.

The program cost around $1.2 billion and is the latest element in Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program, which launched in 2008 with an initial focus on autonomous haul trucks.

Over the past decade, the program has expanded to incorporate drills, trains, and vehicles such as light trucks.

In August 2018, Scania launched a trial of its autonomous XT tipper truck system at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt operation in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director for rail, port and core services Ivan Vella said AutoHaul’s early results indicated “significant potential” to improve productivity and reduce bottlenecks.

He also indicated that the system could co-exist with the company’s current train staff.

“Over the coming months we will continue to refine our autonomous operations to ensure we are able to maximise value,” he said.

“We continue to work closely with drivers during this period and do not expect to make any redundancies in 2019 as a result of the deployment of AutoHaul.”