Epiroc, Roy Hill to create largest single autonomous mine in Australia

The Roy Hill Operations Centre in Perth, Australia

After winning the largest automation order in the Swedish company’s history, Epiroc will work with Western Australia iron ore mine Roy Hill to convert the mine’s mixed fleet of haul trucks to driverless operation.

The project, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, will mark the world’s largest single autonomous mine and is expected to be completed in 2024.

“We are very excited about supporting Roy Hill in the work to create the world’s largest single autonomous mine,” said Helena Hedblom, Epiroc president and CEO. “The benefits for both safety and productivity will be substantial.”

The order covers a portion of Roy Hill’s 96-vehicle fleet, which ultimately will comprise 54 Caterpillar trucks and 42 Hitachi trucks, and more than 200 modified ancillary vehicles will interact with the autonomous haul trucks.

Epiroc said that, along with the US-based ASI Mining (of which Epiroc owns 34%), the goal is to develop an autonomous haul truck solution that is interoperable and scalable regardless of manufacturer, and the companies said the roll-out plan will be customer-centric.

Roy Hill has completed the production verification phase, and there are currently autonomous vehicles running 24/7 in a dedicated autonomous operating zone on the site that are interacting safely with two excavators and several ancillary vehicles at intersections, waste dumps and load areas.

The mining company, which also has a Remote Operations Centre in Perth that provides end-to-end integration of operations, said the autonomous vehicles currently in use are meeting desired safety and productivity metrics while achieving higher productivity than conventional haul trucks.

“[Roy Hill] is a true pioneer and will set a new gold standard for autonomous surface mining, and our team working on this is doing an excellent job,” said Jose Sanchez, president of Epiroc’s Surface division.

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