Tag Archives: Steve Campbell

BHP completes autonomous haulage milestone at South Flank iron ore mine

South Flank’s fifth Autonomous Operating Zone (AOZ) has gone live, marking the completion of the original project scope for implementation of autonomous haulage at the major miner’s newest iron ore mine, BHP says.

The project has been safely delivered ahead of schedule and under budget, testament to the hard work and dedication of the embedded project teams from Western Australia Asset Projects, IPRO (Integrated Production and Remote Operations) and TROC (Technology Remote Operations Centre), Komatsu technical support, and South Flank’s Mining Production and Mobile Equipment Maintenance teams, it added.

Through their coordinated efforts, South Flank is now fully autonomous for its primary haul fleet, with 41 Komatsu 930e haul trucks converted and around 185 pieces of ancillary equipment able to operate safely around them in the site’s five Autonomous Operating Zones (AOZs).

“The carefully phased approach we took to bringing autonomous haulage online has ensured a safe transition through the complications of a mixed operation,” Steve Campbell, General Manager of South Flank, said.

“With our on-site IPRO facility at full capacity and both primary crushers accepting autonomous dumping, we can now start to bed in the productivity, cost and maintenance improvements that autonomous haulage delivers through the increased truck hours and more consistent cycle times. I am confident that more improvements will be realised as we optimise autonomous haulage across South Flank.”

South Flank committed to transitioning to autonomous haulage in January 2022, less than a year after first production, and began converting the first trucks in April that year, as well as recruiting and training for the new roles required for autonomous haulage operation. Many of the mine’s existing employees have been upskilled, BHP added.

The first AOZ went live in June 2022, and project scope has been steadily progressed since then, including construction of the temporary on-site IPRO facility, upgrades to network infrastructure and the delivery of almost 3,000 training modules to enable people to work safely in and around the autonomous fleet. The project team continue to support Autonomous Haulage at South Flank during optimisation and ramp up.

South Flank is 156 km northwest of Newman and 9 km south of BHP’s Mining Area C facility in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is Australia’s largest new iron ore mine in more than 50 years. When it merges with the neighbouring Mining Area C operation, it will form the largest operating iron ore hub in the world, producing 145 Mt of iron ore each year.

BHP keeps Western Australia iron ore rail operations on track

BHP says its Rail Operations team in Western Australia is finding new ways to safely navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus, with several of its train drivers based in other states of Australia and overseas relocating to support their counterparts in WA.

Most of BHP’s rail operations team already live in Western Australia, according to the company, but a number regularly commute from interstate or overseas for their scheduled rosters, BHP said.

To help cover those roles, some of these drivers have opted to stay in the Pilbara for their next shift, while others have temporarily relocated to Western Australia and are currently in 14 days of self-isolation before they return to site, the company said.

Media reports say BHP has relocated some 300 people from the eastern states of Australia to Western Australia to comply with cross-border restrictions or quarantine requirements in the country. This follows a ban on fly-in-fly-out workers from New South Wales entering Western Australia.

BHP’s majority-owned Western Australia Iron Ore operation is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 km of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.

Other rail operations staff, including supervisors, coordinators, trainers and many other team members, are picking up jobs they wouldn’t normally do to keep BHP trains operational over the next few months, the miner said.

“With the current challenge in front of us, the team are doing whatever it takes to help each other out and keep our trains moving,” Rail Operations Manager, Steve Campbell, said. “It has meant working differently, making it possible to deliver today, what would have been seen as impossible only a short time ago.

“The rail drivers here at BHP are some of the best in the world. They are proud of what they do and who they represent.

“I am so proud of the entire rail team who have all been up to the challenge, keeping our trains moving, helping to keep the country moving – to me, that’s big!”