As the driving force of Australia’s mining industry, it is essential that those involved with mining in the Pilbara have access to the newest technology and tools. If the latest machines to arrive in the Western Australian hub are anything to go by, the Pilbara is well on track to continue leading the sector.
Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which both have operations in the Pilbara, recently announced plans to introduce robotic trucks into the region. This is a massive step forward for mining in Australia, given the sector’s continuous push towards automation.
The driverless nature of the trucks, manufactured by the likes of Caterpillar and Komatsu, promise unprecedented standards in safety, efficiency and productivity. These autonomous vehicles boast the capability to head down into dangerous pits without the need for human guidance or operation, protecting the safety and lives of countless mining workers.
Add to that the vast improvements in efficiency one can expect from these machines – with mining firms able to get more return out of the trucks, they are likely to assist in slashing costs and maintaining their competitiveness on a global scale.
For BHP Billiton in particular, the introduction of the trucks to its Pilbara sites represents the next phase in plans to increase automation in its nationwide operations. The firm has already overseen successful trials of robotic trucks at its nearby operations in Newman and Wheelarra.
As the automation revolution gathers pace in the mining industry, the technology may not be restricted solely to trucks. In fact, Rio Tinto is currently planning to build a fully autonomous train line by next year, making it the world’s first automated heavy haul network.
With efficiency, cost cutting and worker safety persistent priorities for miners, more automation technologies are likely to be developed for the sector.