MinRes collects 100th Kenworth C509 for autonomous roadtrain project

Mineral Resources (MinRes) has taken delivery of its 100th Kenworth C509.

The prime mover joins MinRes’ fleet of C509s all dedicated to its Onslow Iron project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which will see the world’s first fully autonomous roadtrains in action this year.

MinRes team members recently travelled to the PACCAR plant in Bayswater, Victoria, to see the 100th C509 wrapped in a special livery drive off the production line.

With C509 build slots secured to the end of 2025, MinRes Director of Technology and Innovation, David Geraghty, told Prime Mover the PACCAR manufacturing plant has proven it can sustain MinRes’ growth year-on-year.

“An important factor in this growth is our partnership with PACCAR and the Kenworth product, which recently reached an exciting milestone with the delivery of the 100th C509 prime mover to our fleet,” he said.

“We received the first MinRes spec C509 in 2021, with 15 delivered in total that year, followed by 19 in 2022, 46 in 2023 and about 130 planned for this year.

“The robust, purpose-built vehicle, which is equipped with a Cummins X15 engine and Eaton transmission, has consistently demonstrated it stands up to the harsh environments in which we operate.”

C509s were initially used across MinRes’ iron ore operations in the Yilgarn region.

They are now being prepared to carry 330-tonne payloads without drivers for the Onslow Iron project.

The first prime movers equipped with Hexagon autonomous technology were just recently transported 1,280 kilometres to Onslow via drop-deck trailers.

All of the C509s will be based at MinRes’ truck maintenance facility near Onslow while trials and verification are undertaken with safety drivers before the fleet transitions to autonomous operations.

From there, the full fleet of 150 C509s will be fitted with autonomous technology at a rate of around ten each month.

Within their operations, the roadtrains will travel on a 150-kilometre dedicated and fenced haul road, running from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the MinRes Transhipping Terminal at the Port of Ashburton.

According to Geraghty, safety is at the forefront of the project’s design.

“Grade separation will ensure there is no interaction between the roadtrains on the haul road and vehicles using public roads,” he said.

“Other innovations we’ve introduced to our fleet include the addition of a second air filtration system to get more life out of the engine and to optimise efficiency.

“We have also successfully trialled thermal cameras mounted on roadside monitoring stations that provide early detection of anomalies such as a hot wheel bearing, loose wheel nut, cracked rim or a flat tyre. We have had no heat-related incidents since the cameras were installed.”

Image: Mineral Resources.

A range of jobs will be created to support the autonomous haulage operations, including automation specialists, dispatch and logistic offices, mechanics and auto electricians.

In 2023, MinRes introduced a specialised three-month multi-combination driver training program which is upskilling people with an existing multi-combination truck license to drive 330-tonne quad roadtrains each with a gross vehicle mass of 425 tonnes.

The program is tailored to each individual’s experience and includes pre-start inspections, daily safety checks, driving on the haul road, operating side tipper trailers, radio communications and more.

“MinRes has a proud history of innovation in roadtrain logistics since the company’s first commodity export of manganese from the Woodie Woodie operation in 2004,” Geraghty said.

“The expertise within our haulage team has led to huge demand, including a recently awarded load and haul operations contract with a Tier One miner in Queensland.”

This latest contract will see MinRes’ CSI Mining Services division run eight Kenworth C509 quad roadtrains – reportedly the largest single-engine road trains in the world with the capacity to haul 330 tonnes.

“We are excited to expand MinRes’ operations into the east coast of Australia, opening new business opportunities and access to new labour markets,” Geraghty said.

Send this to a friend