Tag Archives: Daunia

Autonomous haulage under review at Escondida, Spence, BHP says

Having approved three more autonomous haulage projects across its iron ore and coal portfolio since late 2019, BHP is now taking aim at its Chile copper operations, with the potential for automated trucks currently being studied at Escondida and Spence, the company says.

Alongside the potential for autonomous trucks, drills are being converted to autonomous operation at Escondida and Spence, according to the company.

The news came within the company’s financial year 2020 results presentation today, which showed BHP generated underlying EBITDA of $22.1 billion and attributable profit of $8 billion over the 12-month period.

Since late 2019, BHP has announced and is implementing three additional autonomous haulage projects at mine sites across its coal and iron ore segments.

At the Daunia coal mine in central Queensland, it announced the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks in July 2020, with the first trucks set to begin operating in February 2021 and the rollout to be completed early in 2022.

At the Newman East (Eastern Ridge) iron ore mine in Western Australia, the first of 20 autonomous trucks began operating in July 2020, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of this year.

At the Goonyella Riverside mine in Queensland, the first coal site to implement autonomous haul trucks, the deployment of 86 autonomous trucks is expected to be completed early in 2022, it said.

“We will continue to assess the value case for potential expansion of this technology to our other Australian iron ore and coal mine sites,” the company said in the results statement today.

BMA to invest in autonomous haul trucks at Daunia coal mine

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has announced a A$100 million ($69 million) investment and new jobs as part of the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks at its Daunia mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The first retrofit trucks will begin working from February next year, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of 2021, it said.

The 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine opened in 2013 and has a truck fleet that includes Cat 793Fs.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said this was a multi-generational investment in the industry and  state at a time when it is needed.

“We acknowledge the important role our business and industry can play in supporting Queensland communities and the local economy during this time,” he said.

“This announcement is a vote of confidence in Central Queensland. At least 10 regional and indigenous businesses will be employed to support the rollout, with contracts worth A$35 million. This will result in 150 additional project roles for BMA people and contractors. This is on top of 56 new permanent roles on site.”

He reiterated that there would be no job losses as a result of the decision and anyone who currently works with the company – as an employee or labour hire worker – would be given the opportunity to continue to do so.

Hastings Deering’s Central Queensland operations will see an additional 30 jobs required to assist with truck and ancillary fleet conversion.

Hastings Deering CEO, Dean Mehmet, said: “This contract is a huge boost to our local business and the region. We will need 30 additional people to support the work that is required to convert the trucks and ancillary mining fleet into autonomous vehicles at Daunia. It’s exciting work to build on that allows us to grow and develop local talent to deliver technology solutions into the resources sector.”

Other examples of local businesses that will directly benefit from this decision include NB Industries, who will complete the light vehicle fleet conversion, and Radlink who will install wireless communication hardware across the mine.

NB Industries is also involved in completing the fit out of ancillary equipment for the AHS rollout at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside mine, in Central Queensland.

Palmer highlighted the employee engagement and training that is central to this decision.

“We have engaged with our workforce at Daunia over the previous 18 months on the possible rollout of autonomous haulage. Our people have told us that they are eager for new job opportunities and skills. That is why we are confident this is the right decision for Daunia.

“It will further increase safety and performance and help the mine remain competitive over the long term.

“We understand this decision represents some change. But it also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new, highly valued skills that will create additional opportunities for growth into the future.”

To help prepare for Daunia’s autonomous future, it is estimated over 30,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

In addition to pledging to bring autonomous trucks to Daunia and Goonyella Riverside, BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia shortly.

BHP studying autonomous haulage at Eastern Ridge, Daunia

Having previously said it was weighing up a project to automate around 500 haul trucks across its Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal sites, BHP has shed more light on its autonomous haulage plans.

The company made the ambitious admission in May 2019. It has since said it will introduce autonomous haulage at the BHP Mitsuibishi Alliance Goonyella Riverside mine, in Queensland, in a staged project that will see up to 86 Komatsu trucks converted to autonomous mode.

In its half-year results released today, BHP said of the 500 haul trucks it previously spoke of 150 are currently “under feasibility or execution” and 350 are included in its “medium-term plans”. Two projects in the former category include the Eastern Ridge mine site, in the Pilbara, which the company is currently using as its proving ground for innovation, and the 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine, in Queensland, which BHP opened in 2013 and has a fleet of 16 226-t payload trucks (including Cat 793Fs).

In terms of capital expenditure, these projects were expected to cost less than $800 million, including $250 million for sites in feasibility and execution and up to $550 million included in the medium-term plans, it said.

BMA Daunia met coal mine cuts truck service time

The maintenance team at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Daunia metallurgical coal mine has introduced a new service approach for the haul trucks running at the Queensland mine, in the process, cutting the average truck downtime for a regular service from two hours to just 40 minutes.

The haul trucks at BMA Daunia shift around 226 t of coal or overburden every load, with the fleet of 16 running 24 h/d. This means each truck needs to be serviced every 250 hours, or about every two weeks, according to BMA.

“The time it takes our maintenance team to service trucks is critical to our mine efficiency and productivity because it directly impacts how long they are out of action,” BMA said. “And it is vital they are serviced safely, effectively and consistently.

“That’s why we are excited about some recent improvements in the service time for the truck fleet.”

BMA did three things to transform its work:

  • Introduced a dedicated service bay;
  • Allowed maintainers time to set up tooling and service kits before the truck enters the workshop, and;
  • Introduced technology to design, monitor and improve the way it works.

The results have exceeded the team’s expectations, BMA said.

“We reduced the average truck downtime for a regular truck service from two hours to just 40 minutes. That’s a saving of one hour and 20 minutes for each truck a fortnight, or a potential 10 hours of extra work each week for the fleet.”

Not only that, the service process is safer for BMA’s maintainers and more consistently delivered.

BMA says it is about to roll out a similar approach for its larger 363 t payload trucks and will shortly progress to bulldozer servicing, it said.

This work is all part of the BHP Operating System (BOS), according to BMA, a process that also includes standardised work.

“This empowers frontline teams to solve problems and design solutions to streamline their processes,” BMA said. “It also encourages greater collaboration to reduce waste, overloading and variation, and produces more effective and consistent results.”

The company continued: “We started applying standardised work to truck maintenance at Daunia a year ago. We used technology to track our work and then analysed the process to find ways it could be improved. We then helped build a custom app that runs off an iPad or iPhone that walks a maintainer through every aspect of this scheduled maintenance in the most efficient, safe and effective way.

“The app means we complete the service the same way every time and it is interactive, so we can continue making suggestions through it to improve what we do.”

Using a standardised work approach to this important scheduled maintenance process has made BMA’s work quicker, safer, easier, and more efficient, consistent and collaborative, according to the company.

“Best of all, the truck service improvements and the associated technology are transferrable. It is being trialled at two other BHP mine sites and, with a few tweaks to suit each site, looks set to be implemented across all BHP-operated mine sites.”