As expected, the first fleet of autonomous trucks have arrived at BHP’s Newman East mine site with full roll out to be complete by September.
Home to BHP’s Innovation Centre, the Newman East mine will be the second of the company’s Western Australian mines to transition to fully autonomous haulage with 20 autonomous trucks due on site before the end of the year, BHP said. The first was the Jimblebar iron ore mine in the state, which transitioned in 2017.
The existing fleet of Cat 793s would be retrofitted with autonomous haulage systems, BHP previously explained.
BHP’s Newman Operations General Manager, Marie Bourgoin, said the transition would advance BHP’s technology strategy while also creating 41 new, permanent roles and investing A$33 million ($23 million) in contracts with Western Australian businesses.
“We recognise how important it is for BHP to partner with local and small businesses, particularly as we move into a post-COVID economic recovery phase,” she said.
“We are pleased to have been able to offer A$33 million in contracts to WA vendors for a range of work packages including autonomous conversion kits, trailers, training content development, and a number of engineering and construction packages.
“We know our success will be strengthened when we work together with local people and businesses. We will continue to explore further local initiatives as autonomous haulage rolls out, and beyond.”
Bourgoin said there were no redundancies as part of the transition and more than 300 people in the Newman operations workforce were undergoing training and upskilling to work on an autonomous haulage site.
“We have created new control centre and roles, which many of our truck operators have transitioned into, as well as new opportunities in truck maintenance and fuelling,” she said.
“Importantly we have created 41 new permanent roles, which are being offered locally as well as FIFO and will continue to be filled over coming months.”
Since the introduction of autonomous haulage at Jimblebar, significant events involving trucks have decreased by nearly 90%, according to BHP.