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Mining giant confirms driverless trucks for metal mine

Hitachi driverless truck
Hitachi driverless truck

A multinational resources company will introduce dozens of autonomous trucks to its metal operation in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

BHP confirmed it would add 20 driverless trucks to its Eastern Ridge Iron Ore Mine in Newman, 450km south of Port Hedland.

Deployed before Christmas

Procurement and deployment is expected to start as early as June and complete before the end of 2020. The proponent promises the decision will create 30 new jobs and $33 million in new contracting opportunities for local businesses.

“Newman East is home to our innovation centre, so we are already using technology there that helps us to be safer and more efficient; autonomous trucks were the logical next step,” Newman operations general manager Marie Bourgoin said in a public statement.

$500M in savings

BHP previously introduced a fully-autonomous truck fleet to its Jimblebar Iron Ore Mine back in the year 2017 and two years later decided to implement an autonomous fleet at its Goonyella Riverside Coal Mine.

The company predicts it will save $500 million on overhead costs by 2021 compared to the 2019 financial year.

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“We will build our capability to apply technology at scale, with greater speed and lower costs,” BHP acting chief technology officer Rag Udd said. “We will streamline our processes, work more with external providers of infrastructure, systems and services, and focus on projects and opportunities that will generate higher returns, sooner.”

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