Western Australia’s largest gold mine, Boddington, has surpassed the 100 Mt milestone for material safely hauled using Cat® MineStar™ Command for hauling with the gold industry’s first autonomous haulage system (AHS) fleet, the OEM says.
Boddington, a deep open-pit surface mine owned by Newmont, delivered 696,000 oz of gold and 163,000 gold-equivalent ounces in 2021.
The mine’s fleet today includes 36 Cat 793F autonomous and four 793D staffed mining trucks to haul material, and the conversion to AHS was one of the fastest in the industry, spanning approximately seven months to roll out all 36 trucks equipped with Command, according to Caterpillar.
Newmont invested $150 million in its autonomous haulage project with goals to improve mine safety and productivity, while extending the life of the mine. The first 231-t 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, while 29 trucks were new models.
In October 2021, the last of the 36 autonomous trucks went into operation at the mine, with the mine reaching the 100 Mt of material autonomously hauled benchmark by the end of October 2022.
Kosie Bolton, Technology Site Manager for Caterpillar, said: “The time period between rollout of the mine’s first autonomous 793F truck to full conversion of the mine’s autonomous fleet to achieving 100 Mt autonomously hauled was incredibly short. This is a true testament of the great teamwork between Boddington’s talented and dedicated workforce, Cat dealer WesTrac and Caterpillar. The supporting AHS projects will help to improve data understanding and drive operational excellence through data utilisation.”
Including the autonomous trucks, equipment equipped with MineStar Terrain, and site autonomous vehicles and trucks, the mine has 200 connected assets. An entirely new AHS intelligence office, where all the autonomous trucks and connected assets can be viewed and collected data analysed, was also completed and dedicated in October 2022. The new workspace brings together all AHS team members in a single space with tiered seating and screens at the front of the room, Caterpillar says.
James Earl, AHS Control Room Superintendent for the Newmont Boddington Mine, said: “Having everyone together in the new office allows us to post issues on the screens in front of all workers to quickly address them together. We are extremely proud to deliver the gold industry’s first autonomous haul truck fleet at Boddington. This will help extend the mine’s life, reduce safety risks and lower costs. The project’s record implementation is just another example of Newmont’s trademark ability to set and achieve ambitious goals.”
On top of this milestone, Caterpillar and Newmont agreed in November 2021 to collaborate on a number of mining technology initiatives that provide industry leading outcomes for safety, productivity, sustainability and cost.