Tag Archives: Cat

Immersive to supply simulators, solutions for Rio’s Gudai-Darri automation

Rio Tinto has enlisted the help of Immersive Technologies and its equipment simulators to further its autonomous haulage footprint at the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

The mine, which will operate Caterpillar autonomous trucks equipped with Cat MineStar™ Command for Hauling system, will use simulation-based training solutions from Immersive Technologies to address the workforce development challenges within autonomous haulage operations with a focus on improving the safety and efficiency of their operator workforce, Immersive said.

Rio has used such systems from Immersive for over 17 years, understanding the value of investing in simulators for operator capability development, including equipment productivity and reliability initiatives, Immersive said.

Rio Tinto Vice President, Human Resources, Scott Browne, said: “This is an important component of our comprehensive training program for AHS, which includes supporting new team members as well as upskilling existing employees. Gudai-Darri will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines. Preparations are well under way to ensure its workforce is ready to take on the high-tech jobs on offer.”

Focused on capability development in the usage of the autonomous system, Rio Tinto partnered with Immersive Technologies to provide a solution to support the mine-readiness schedule and objectives, Immersive said. Specific training products include a platform which simulates a Cat 6060 excavator, Cat D10T dozer and Cat 18M grader. All simulator modules are equipped with an autonomous system panel and provide a safe and effective environment for training by allowing learners to operate their equipment while interacting with the autonomous trucks and managing their work areas as required, the company added.

The simulator solution is complimented by machine pre-start inspection software, which provides a detailed visualisation of equipment components, including autonomous components fitted to machines. Additionally, a ‘Virtual Classroom’ product hosts complex autonomous procedures that immerses learners in a safe and repeatable virtual environment which enables the development of deep knowledge and muscle memory of operational procedures, Immersive said.

Greg Karadjian, Regional Vice President Australia of Immersive, said: “Immersive Technologies is at the forefront of workforce development for autonomous haulage mining operations with deployments of simulation-based training solutions in more than 17 autonomous sites globally, by utilising blended learning systems, simulation and human performance analytics our solutions are preparing the workforces of the future.”

Back in 2019, Rio, Caterpillar and WesTrac signed an agreement to supply and support mining machines, automation and enterprise technology systems at Gudai-Darri, with Rio confirming the supply of a fleet of 20 autonomous 793F trucks as well as four autonomous blast drills.

Gudai-Darri will deliver a new production hub for Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 Mt, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio’s flagship iron ore product.

Evolution Mining studying open-pit, underground expansion options at Cowal

Evolution Mining says it is embarking on a prefeasibility study to further expand its Cowal open-pit mine as part of a plan to build towards 350,000 oz/y of sustainable, reliable, low-cost gold production from the New South Wales operation.

Currently on the E42 stage H cutback, Evolution said during a recent site visit that there is potential to further the life of the open pit by accessing feed from the E41 and E46 satellite pits. The study looking into a possible expansion is due later this year, with the company saying it could provide long-term base load ore feed for the operation.

The mine produced 262,000 ounces in Evolution’s 2020 financial year.

The Stage H cutback the company is currently pursuing is expected to see increased ore volumes and grade mined in the first six months of this year, with the strip ratio to fall below 1:1 in its 2023 financial year, Evolution said. It also says an equipment strategy review is underway, with opportunities to “rationalise fleet” with reduced re-handling.

The haulage and loading fleet at Cowal currently consists of 20 Cat 789C dump trucks, three Cat 785C trucks, four excavators (one Liebherr 9400, one Liebherr 994B, one Liebherr 9200 and one Hitachi EX1200), plus three Cat 992G wheel loaders. It also has six hired Epiroc SmartROC surface drills at the operation, one Drill Rigs Australia GC600 drill rig, five Cat D10T tracked dozers and one Cat 834H wheel dozer.

The open-pit expansion is only part of the expansion story at Cowal, with a feasibility study underway on an underground operation. This is factoring in 3 Moz of resources and 1 Moz of reserves, with high-grade orebodies open at depth, the company says.

A second decline (Galway) is due to be developed at Cowal this year, with diamond drilling set to commence next month. The 14,300 m of planned drilling will, the company says, help confirm optimal grade control parameters and convert resources to reserves.

Evolution Mining also has a permit to increase processing capacity at Cowal to 9.8 Mt/y, with near-term incremental improvements targeting a circa-9 Mt/y rate.

The process flowsheet at Cowal includes primary crushing with a Metso Outotec 54-75 Superior MK-II gyratory, grinding with an FLSmidth 36 ft (11 m) x 20.5 ft (6.2 m) SAG mill and FLSmidth 22 ft x 36.5 ft ball mill, and screening with Schenck and Delkor screens. Sandvik H6800 hydroconecone crushers, Metso Outotec flotation cells, a Metso Outotec Vertimill, and Metso Outotec stirred media detritors also feature.

Evolution also said it is testing technology that uses glycine and cyanide during the cyanidation process of gold ore at Cowal for potential significant cost savings and environmental benefits.

Lab trials with the GlyCat™ technology from Australia-based Mining and Process Solutions have been completed successfully, it said, with the next phase being pilot plant trials to assess variability tests and long-term environmental impacts.

Cat boosts productivity and efficiency with new 992 Wheel Loader

Building on a more than half-century legacy that includes the best-selling large mining loader model of all time, the new Cat® 992 Wheel Loader sets a new standard by offering up to 32% greater productivity, Caterpillar says.

This new large mining loader reduces maintenance costs by as much as 10% and offers up to 48% greater payload-per-fuel efficiency than the earlier model 992K, the company claims.

Powered by the new Cat C32B engine with US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage V and Tier 2 equivalent emission engine options, the new 992 meets the global industry’s demand for high-production equipment with greater payloads, Cat says. Powertrain design enhancements to the transmission, axles and final drive, along with the new engine, deliver a 20% longer interval for planned component replacement.

Offering both standard- and high-lift configurations, the 992 delivers the lowest cost-per-tonne when paired with fleets of Cat 775, 777 and 785 trucks, according to the company. Standard-lift payload capacities reach 23.1 t for quarry face applications and 27.2 t for loose material handling, while high-lift capacities reach 20.4 t and 24.5 t in respective applications.

Productive and efficient

A new Z-bar linkage optimised for performance, and improvements to rimpull and breakout force, deliver greater machine capacity and efficiency. The new 992 has demonstrated in field testing up to 48% greater payload-per-fuel efficiency in applications where a four-pass match to 90.7 t trucks was achieved, versus five passes with the 992K. The powerful and efficient 992 provides up to 9.5% more rimpull during digging and up to 20% more breakout force, increasing productivity, the company claims.

The new Cat 992 wheel loader features an on-demand throttle mode to optimise payload-per-fuel efficiency without slowing production. New standard automatic retarding controls disable the impeller clutch, enable the lockup clutch, and use the implement and fan pumps retarding to slow the machine on grade. The available advanced automatic retarding controls with engine brake feature offers full control of the loader’s speed on grade to maintain a desired hold speed, according to Cat.

Automating critical digging cycle elements, optional new Autodig components further improve productivity and efficiency while reducing tyre wear. To stop slippage before it happens, a tyre slip prevention feature reduces rimpull before the tyres are set and increases rimpull when downward force is applied to the tyre. The tyre set function detects pile contact and automatically lifts against the pile to set the tyres and increase available traction. The lift stall prevention feature automatically manages rimpull in-dig to prevent hydraulic stall while lifting through the face, so the 992 spends less time in the pile.

An optional new Payload Overload Prevention tool allows for productivity and efficiency improvements by providing a large enough bucket to be used to achieve target pass match across a range of material densities without the risk of overload. With the overload value fully adjustable based on the target payload, this feature can be configured to automatically stop or slow the lift function when the overload value is exceeded, Cat says.

Improvements to the setback and strike plane angles, a longer bucket floor and a stronger and larger bottom section increase the bucket fill factor by 10%. The taller side plate with level top surface helps to improve visibility beyond the bucket edge to the material pile.

Available Operator Coaching empowers operators to exceed productivity targets by measuring and providing feedback to teach optimal operating techniques. Among other operating techniques, this feature shows how to properly shorten travel, avoid unracking in-dig, enter the pile with a level bucket, reduce the dump height and use the kickout.

Comfort and safety

The newly redesigned Cat 992 wheel loader cab increases visibility, offers intuitive control and incorporates next-generation technology to boost efficiency by providing easily accessible information. Its taller windshield increases the glass surface area by 25%, resulting in 10% greater visibility. Cat says operators will appreciate the cab’s 50% increase in legroom and more width by the knees.

Providing shift-long operating comfort, the new 992 controls feature electrohydraulic speed-sensing steering with force feedback. Two 254-mm colour LED monitors display machine control and operating functions. A separate 203-mm screen provides a dedicated viewing feed of the standard rear-view camera, upgradable with an optional 270° vision and object detection.

Total cost of ownership

Extended major component life on the new 992 and improved service access deliver up to 10% lower maintenance costs. Automatic lubrication to Z-bar linkage pins with robust guarding, meanwhile, helps to deliver more reliable operation. A front walkaround platform simplifies cleaning of cab windows. Two large openings per machine side offer quick and convenient access to the improved cooling package, reducing cleaning time, Cat says.

Improved hydraulic systems filtration and pump prognostics for the implement pump reduce machine downtime. The new loader displays the remaining useful life for the engine air filter, allowing technicians to plan for machine servicing.

Offering convenient and improved access to maintenance items, the service centre has been relocated to the left-hand side of the machine, along with the fuel tanks. S∙O∙SSM fluid sampling ports are safely accessed from ground level and filters are organised by type and change interval to increase maintenance efficiency.

Capital builds up mining fleet for Sukari gold mine work

Capital is well on the way to securing a suitable fleet to carry out the open-pit waste mining contract at Centamin’s Sukari gold mine, with additional trucks recently arriving in Egypt and payments “significantly progressed” for all major long lead equipment required to service the operation.

Equity proceeds from the recent $40 million share placing were received in late December 2020, facilitating these further payments, according to Capital.

The 120 Mt open-pit waste mining contract at Sukari will see Capital provide load and haul and ancillary services over a period of four years. At the same time, the existing drilling contract at Sukari has been extended to December 31, 2024, (from September 30, 2023) and expanded by nine additional blasthole rigs, bringing the rigs operating at Sukari to 24 in total.

Included in the long lead items are 17 Cat 785 dump trucks, seven blasthole drill rigs, three excavators, and all major ancillary support equipment including dozers, graders and water trucks. Capital said additional trucks had recently arrived in Egypt, supplementing the initial truck fleet that arrived during the December quarter of 2020.

Capital also said it has made substantial progress on several of the debt facilities contemplated in the capital raising prospectus related to the Sukari contract including:

  • Executing the $2.6 million vendor finance agreement with Epiroc with full draw down against the purchase of three new blasthole rigs;
  • Fully drawing down on the remaining tranches of the $10 million Macquarie facility following finalisation of the Sukari contracts and security registration in Egypt; and
  • The committed and available vendor finance facility with Sandvik for $8.5 million is expected to be used over the course of the March quarter against the purchase of four new blasthole rigs.

Jamie Boyton, Capital Executive Chairman, said it was pleasing to note that site activity was progressing well with the continued expansion of its extensive on-site facilities, “further asset arrivals and the recruitment of key personnel to prepare for the commencement of preliminary mining activity in late Q1 (March quarter) as planned”.

Cat bolsters earthmoving credentials with new 657 Wheel Tractor-Scraper

Caterpillar’s new 657 Wheel Tractor-Scraper (WTS) is billed as increasing productivity and enhancing operator comfort while delivering low-cost earthmoving, according to the OEM.

Featuring the field-proven, twin-power design to boost cycle times, the new WTS boasts a 7% increase in fuel efficiency over the 657G WTS, meaning more material is moved per unit of fuel burned. It also has improved onboard payload estimating accuracy to optimise productivity.

The 657 WTS is the largest open bowl scraper in the Caterpillar line, with a rated load of 46.4 t. It also has a more spacious cab to boost operator comfort and efficiency in high volume earthmoving, highway construction and mining applications.

“This new 657 is the next generation of ultra-class material moving systems,” John Gerhold, Wheel Tractor-Scraper Application Specialist for Caterpillar, said. “It delivers improved productivity, safety and technology, which our customers can use to strengthen their business today – and it is equipped to grow with them to meet tomorrow’s requirements.”

The 657 features on-the-go weighing through Payload Estimator, allowing the new WTS to achieve 95% load accuracy, so operators more easily reach target load goals, according to Cat. When working in colder climates, the Auto-Stall feature quickly brings the transmission to operating temperature at start-up, so the 657 gets to work faster. Ground Speed Control lowers fuel consumption by allowing the operator to set the desired top speed, allowing the machine to find the gear that works best for the engine and transmission.

The two-engine design includes the Cat C18 powering the tractor and Cat C15 in the scraper, both meeting US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage V emissions standards. Its Advanced Productivity Electronic Control System, meanwhile, allows the machine to better use engine power and torque, resulting in more material moved throughout the shift. The transmission features Electronic Clutch Pressure Control, which improves shift quality and fuel efficiency. New hydraulic disc brakes improve braking performance and reduce maintenance.

With a 21% larger cab interior than the preceding model, the 657G, improves operator comfort and provides excellent visibility to the bail, cutting edge and bowl of the unit, Cat says. The air suspension comfort seat adjusts and rotates 30° to reduce fatigue, while the new Advance Ride Management adjusts damping to match ground conditions, resulting in a smoother ride for the operator. Automatic HVAC temperature control and defroster come standard for increased operator comfort, while a new power access ladder enhances operator safety when entering and exiting the cab.

The new high-pressure steering system requires less steering input, which bolsters operator efficiency and productivity, Cat says. Automatically engaging when the machine is in eighth gear, engine overspeed protection assists in slowing machine speed when approaching engine limits. Sequence Assist, a new option on the 657, automates many operator inputs each cycle to simplify machine operation.

The 657 tractor includes a new hydraulic on-demand fan that increases engine fuel efficiency. The machine also has draft-arm overflow guards, which prevent material accumulation between the draft arms and bowl sides. Ground-level access for fuel fill and all daily maintenance points increases service efficiency and safety to increase machine uptime.

Cat Product Link™, in tandem with the Integrated Payload Estimator, provide real-time payload, machine location, fuel usage and idle time information as well as diagnostic fault codes – all to significantly increase fleet management efficiency. A collective view of critical machine operating data is accessed via VisionLink® from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Gold Fields to trial Caterpillar dual-fuel solution on haul trucks at Tarkwa mine

Gold Fields plans to test the use of LNG to power haul trucks in a trial at its Tarkwa open-pit gold mine in Ghana, CEO Nick Holland told attendees of the IMARC Online event this week.

Speaking on a panel reviewing progress of the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Holland said the trial would involve a mix of LNG and diesel fuel at the operation, and four trucks would initially be tested with the fuel combination in 2021.

Gold Fields later confirmed to IM that the trial would take place in the second half of 2021 and involve the use of Caterpillar’s dual-fuel LNG Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) retrofit system on four of the mine’s Cat 785C 146 t payload dump trucks.

The DGB conversion kits, available on Cat 785C and 793D haul trucks, are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG, according to Cat. The use of LNG has been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, as well as lower costs by up to 30%, Cat says.

DGB vaporises liquid fuel into natural gas, then replaces diesel fuel with LNG when possible. On average, DGB replaces about 60-65% of diesel with LNG, according to Cat.

Tarkwa, which is 90% owned by Gold Fields, produced 519,000 oz of gold in 2019, 1% lower than the 525,000 oz produced in 2018. It employs Engineers & Planners Co Ltd as mining contractor.

While this trial will potentially lower the company’s carbon emissions – as will Gold Fields’ plan to fit “diesel filters” on all its machines underground in the next 12-18 months – Holland pointed to a much loftier long-term goal during the ICSV panel.

“The challenge to our teams and OEMs is to move away from diesel completely,” he said.

Such a move could see the company employ both battery-powered and hydrogen-powered solutions at its underground mines, he added.

Cat looks for durable, sustainable dozing performance with new D9 GC dozer

Caterpillar has increased the durability and sustainability of its renowned D9 dozer, with its new Cat D9 GC Dozer.

Built for best-in-class owning and operating costs while delivering reliable performance and straightforward operation and maintenance, the D9 GC Dozer shares the same frame as the Cat D9 Dozer, also updated recently, and continues the series legacy with its superior durability, Cat says.

The frame, powertrain and major components are designed to be rebuilt to give the dozer a cost-effective second life with like-new performance, it added.

Application-specific configurations and multiple blade attachments deliver efficient dozing performance in a range of mining, construction and industrial applications such as production dozing, ripping overburden, site maintenance, fleet support, bulk materials handling and land reclamation, the company says. Special configurations are available for desert, arctic and steel mill applications.

The D9 GC replaces the D9R and continues to feature the Cat 3408C engine, producing 308 kW in the new dozer. The engine now offers longer fuel and air cleaner life, a single high-efficiency oil filter for lower maintenance costs and a new, robust self-tensioner. The D9 GC powertrain incorporates the Cat three-speed planetary powershift transmission and torque divider with free-wheel stator, which puts more power to the ground and saves fuel, Cat says.

Delivering more tractive effort to push through tough cuts, Caterpillar’s elevated sprocket and suspended undercarriage isolates the final drives, axles and steering components from harsh impacts to increase machine longevity. The suspended undercarriage reduces shock loads transferred to the undercarriage by up to 50%, resulting in a smoother, more comfortable ride for the operator, according to the company.

The D9 GC offers an isolation-mounted operator platform with ROPS and FOPS for operator safety and comfort, while the Cat Comfort Series seat is fully adjustable with thick seat and back cushions to improve operator comfort and support. Simple hand controls combine steering clutch disengagement and brake application for each track to deliver operation. A notched fuel tank and narrow ripper carriage deliver exceptional visibility of the front and rear work areas to enhance operating safety, Cat says.

“The new D9 GC has many of the same components, parts and systems of the D9R Dozer, offering a familiar design for service technicians,” the company says. “Both left and right equaliser bar pin bearings and pins are conveniently lubricated from a remote lubrication point that is easy to access. Daily powertrain oil check and sampling ports are conveniently accessed from the service platform for added safety.”

The new high-efficiency aluminum bar plate radiator for the engine features a large cover for quick access and improved cleaning efficiency. Sealed electrical connectors lock out dust and moisture to elevate electrical system reliability and servicing, while the bottom guard has a secondary retention system, which allows a service technician to free a stuck guard and safely lower it to the ground.

WesTrac recognises women working in Pilbara mines with purple Cat grader

A Cat grader with a difference is on its way from Caterpillar dealer WesTrac’s Port Hedland workshop, in Western Australia, to a Pilbara mine site.

Unlike the typical yellow Cat equipment in use across Australia’s mining sector, this is likely to be the only purple grader operating anywhere in Australia, WesTrac says.

The eye-catching finish was applied as part of a machine rebuild by WesTrac and is designed to promote recognition of the Women in Mining in the Pilbara group.

WesTrac Area Manager, Jason Hill, said while the team had painted equipment in various colours including blue, green, pink and black before, it was the first time he’d come across a request for purple.

“It’s not a shade we have on hand as part of the standard Cat colour range, so to meet the brief we engaged one of our key customers and local suppliers that regularly assists us with equipment painting,” Hill said.

“No doubt it will turn some heads when it makes the journey back to site this week and that’s exactly the purpose – to generate recognition and attention for the big number of women working in the mining sector across the Pilbara region.”

Hill said the rebuild was also a great example of mining companies providing work opportunities to support the local communities in which they operate.

“While these sorts of full rebuilds have traditionally been carried out at WesTrac’s Perth workshop, the company also has Caterpillar trained technicians and fully-equipped facilities within its extensive regional network around the state, and mining operators’ willingness to utilise these local workshops is boosting regional employment opportunities,” he said.

“The unusual colour finish has allowed WesTrac to further extend that use of local business as well.”

Cat revamps 6060 hydraulic mining shovel

Caterpillar has launched its next generation 6060 hydraulic mining shovel, which, it says, features multiple design enhancements and new components that advance machine performance, durability, serviceability, and operator comfort.

The new 6060, which replaces the 6060B in the hydraulic mining shovel lineup, features updated engines, optimised hydraulics, heavy-duty structures and undercarriage, Cat electronics and a state-of-the-art cab, according to the company. It is also fully integrated into Caterpillar product support systems for efficient Cat dealer services.

One of these new-generation shovels is set to operate at Anglo American’s in-development Quellaveco mine, in Peru, as part of a fleet that includes autonomous 794 AC trucks.

The 600-t class mining shovel has a bucket payload of about 61 t/pass in both face shovel and backhoe configurations. This makes it an efficient four-pass match with the 231-t payload Cat 793 mining truck and five-pass match with the 291-t payload Cat 794 AC mining truck.

Twin Cat 3512E engines are optimised for high performance, fuel efficient operation and increased durability, according to the company.

For North America, the engines are equipped with a maintenance-free diesel oxidation catalyst emissions control system, do not use diesel exhaust fluid and comply with US EPA Tier 4 Final regulations, Cat says. The updated engine design boosts reliability and extends time between overhauls by 10%.

The combination of this updated engine and optimised hydraulics enables 10-15% percent better fuel efficiency compared with the previous face shovel model, with 3-5% greater efficiency for the backhoe configuration, Cat says. For reduced maintenance, engine oil and filter change intervals are doubled to 1,000 hours.

Structural, undercarriage and slew ring upgrades help maximise uptime and productivity and lower cost per tonne, according to Cat. To boost longevity, the Cat undercarriage features heavy-duty rollers, idlers and tracks, along with a revised track tensioning system. The superstructure frame, face shovel and backhoe attachment structures, meanwhile, have been redesigned to reduce structural repair and extend service life via increased plate thicknesses and geometrical improvements. The slew ring design extends component life with a triple-race roller bearing and sealed internal gearing.

“The 6060 features a new, state-of-the-art cab and operator station with industry-leading visibility provided by the large floor window and expansive windshield and side windows,” Cat said. “Unrestricted lines of sight to the crawler tracks and pit floor aid the operator when repositioning the shovel and when loading trucks.”

A pneumatically cushioned operator seat can be heated and ventilated. It also has integrated joysticks and is multi-adjustable to offer optimal ergonomics.

This cab also includes two additional seats: a full-size seat and laptop desk for a trainer and a fold-up seat for an observer. The three-seat cab design is the first in this size class of shovels, Cat says.

Improved sound suppression on the power module keeps spectator sound levels low, while the sound suppressed cab provides a quiet working environment for the operator, according to the company.

The first of several features within the available Operator Assist suite, Enhanced Motion Control is standard on the shovel. This improves machine controllability and loading efficiency while reducing linkage and cylinder mechanical contact, according to Cat.

The machine’s five-circuit hydraulics design allows simultaneous control over two cylinder motions, two travel motions and swing to boost digging and loading efficiency, the company added.

The next-generation design helps improve service and maintenance efficiency by offering more room inside the service compartment and easy ground-level accessibility to the service station, Cat says.

Integration of Cat hoses in the design allows for local hose sourcing, while improved hose and component organisation further reduces machine downtime.

Sensors located throughout the 6060 monitor operating data, record faults and give audible and visual notifications of issues to the operator. Product Link™ Elite, which is standard for the first time on the 6060, enables data communication for remote machine health monitoring.

The 6060 comes ready to accept Cat MineStar™ Solutions, a suite of mining technologies geared to enhance mine safety, improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.

In addition to the next generation diesel-powered 6060, Caterpillar continues to offer the electrically powered 6060 AC FS (face shovel) for mines optimised for such machines.

Caterpillar hits 2 billion tonnes hauled milestone with autonomous haulage system

Caterpillar has again hit a significant milestone in autonomous haulage – achieving 2 billion tonnes hauled using Cat® MineStar™ Command for hauling.

The mining OEM’s autonomous haulage system (AHS) has doubled the amount hauled in the 16 months since reaching 1 billon tonnes hauled in November 2018, it said.

“In just a bit over six years, we’ve safely hauled 2 billion tonnes – a milestone we achieved significantly faster than our competitors,” Sean McGinnis, MineStar Solutions Product Manager, said. “This milestone makes Command for hauling the most productive commercially available solution, and it’s something mining people are noticing.”

Since commercially launching Command for hauling in 2013, Caterpillar has continued to improve the speed of implementation. “We’re launching Command on more sites and implementing it more quickly, so more of our customers can experience the safety and productivity gains that autonomous hauling delivers,” McGinnis said. In the company’s March quarter earnings call on April 28, Andrew Bonfield, Chief Financial Officer of Cat, said 282 trucks were running autonomously using Cat Command for hauling.

McGinnis credits input from Caterpillar customers for the success of Command for hauling. “One of the reasons that Caterpillar has been so successful in expanding Command and delivering results is because we listen to and partner with our customers. They identify features, functionality, and even the autonomous truck models they need for their operations.”

One of Cat’s latest AHS customers is Newmont’s Boddington gold mine, in Australia, which earlier this year announced it would become the world’s first open-pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet. This followed the signing of a deal with Caterpillar, which would involve adding some new AHS-enabled Caterpillar 793Fs to the haulage fleet and retrofitting some existing 793Fs with AHS capabilities, a Newmont spokesperson confirmed. In the same March quarter earnings call, Cat’s Bonfield said the company expected to start shipping the first of its new Cat 793F autonomous trucks to the miner next year.

Over the last six years, MineStar Solutions has also continued to grow its expertise in autonomous operations – not only in hauling but also with autonomous dozers, drills and underground loaders, the company said.

John Deselem, Global Autonomy Operations Manager, said: “The skills and knowledge of our MineStar team are unmatched in the industry. Beyond getting better at implementing the system, we’ve become trusted advisors for mine sites looking to take advantage of what autonomy makes possible. We listen to their needs, then work together to build the ideal solution for their mine.”

“The push toward autonomous mining doesn’t show any signs of slowing,” McGinnis said. “We have projects in the works with a number of large mining companies either looking to expand their current autonomous haulage operations or implement new ones.”

The Caterpillar autonomous fleet is made up of Cat 789D, 793D, 793F and 797F trucks, as well as a fleet of Komatsu 930Es. The Cat 794 AC electric-drive autonomous truck will be ready for autonomous haulage later this year. Command equipped trucks have driven over 67.6 million kilometers without a lost-time injury, according to the company.

“Command for hauling has proven its value to mining customers,” McGinnis said. “That value is reflected in the rate at which the Cat autonomous fleet achieved this milestone. The fleet is growing quickly and production continues to climb as mining companies benefit from greater truck productivity, increased truck utilisation, consistent truck operation, and reduced costs.”