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New mining boss rules out driverless trains and automation at other mines

BHP CEO Mike Henry
BHP CEO Mike Henry

A multinational resources company will have no autonomous trains or any further automated operations, the new chief executive said.

Incoming BHP CEO Mike Henry has ruled out investing in driverless train technology and any further automation of its haul trucks because it would not be financially viable.

Weak ‘financial case’

“We decided not to go down that route for now and the reason for that really comes down to the capital allocation point that [BHP chair] Ken Mackenzie made,” he said in a question and answer video to shareholders.

“[For] some of them, the financial case just is not there to pursue them. That is where we have landed in the case of train automation again for now, and it is where we have landed for some other mines where we will not pursue automation for the time being.”

‘Safer, more reliable’

Under the leadership for former CEO Andrew Mackenzie, the company introduced automated haul trucks at the Goonyella Riverside Coal Mine in Moranbah, Daunia Coal Mine in Coppabella, and Jimblebar Iron Ore Mine in the Pilbara.

“Those three sites are currently in the process of deploying these autonomous trucks,” Henry said.

“It was back in 2017 when we went to our first fully autonomous haulage operation at Jimblebar … since then the site has become safer, more reliable and lower cost. That is kind of the proof-point for us then [and] off the back of that then we have announced last year that three further sites where will move autonomous haulage.”

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The company also promised to eliminate emissions through limiting “diesel use in our equipment in our mining operations.”

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