The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2018

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 4 8 LEADING DEVELOPMENTS What was once assigned to the realm of science ficঞon is proving a reality through Rio Tinto's AutoHaul™ programme, with the company achieving significant milestone with the first delivery of iron ore in the Pilbara, Western Australia by a giant robot – an autonomous train. The train, consisঞng of three locomoঞves and carrying approximately 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled over 280 kilometres from Rio Tinto's mining operaঞons in Tom Price to the port of Cape Lambert. It was monitored remotely by operators from Rio Tinto's Operaঞons Centre in Perth more than 1,500 kilometres away. The inaugural journey is a significant milestone for Rio Tinto's AutoHaul™ programme and follows regulatory approval in May 2018. AutoHaul™ is on schedule to complete by the end of the year, unlocking significant safety and producঞvity gains for the business, as well as opঞmising the company's iron ore system by providing more flexibility and reducing bolenecks. Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Rail, Port & Core Services Ivan Vella said that the safe first delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train was a key milestone for AutoHaul™. "The programme will deliver the world's first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network, operaঞng the world's largest and longest robots. "This programme symbolises both the pioneering spirit and innovaঞve talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and producঞvity, as well as enabling greater flexibility across our operaঞons." Mr Vella said that Rio Tinto will conঞnue to ensure its autonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of condiঞons experienced in the Pilbara, where Rio Tinto records more than eight million kilometres of train travel each year. Rio Tinto's AUD$940 million AutoHaul™ programme is focused on automaঞng trains transporঞng iron ore to Rio Tinto's port faciliঞes in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Once commissioned, the network will be the world's first heavy haul, long distance autonomous rail operaঞon. Rio Tinto operates about 200 locomoঞves on more than 1,700 kilometres of track in the Pilbara, transporঞng ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. The average return distance of these trains is approximately 800 kilometres, with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking about 40 hours. Locomoঞves carrying AutoHaul™ so[ware are fied with on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the Operaঞons Centre. All public rail crossings on the network are fied with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded to the highest safety standards. Lido Costa, principal engineer on the AutoHaul™ project, says the trains are indeed giant autonomous robots because once they are set on their course, they make all the decisions. "There is a train controller at the Operaঞons Centre in Perth who sets the route. But once it's running the on-board computers and the computers at the Operaঞons Centre take over and it makes its own decisions," says Lido. "The network of computers makes sure the train keeps to the speed limit, makes sure it doesn't run into other trains or other trains don't run into it, makes sure there's nothing obstrucঞng the level crossings. And there are a whole lot of other devices in place to protect people and equipment," explains Lido. The main advantages to spring from the shi[ from manually operated trains to a fully autonomous system is safety and producঞvity. Rio Tinto forge ahead in creang world's first heavy haul, long-distance autonomous rail operaon Rio Tinto achieves first delivery of iron ore with world's largest robot

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