Rio Tinto expands automated truck fleet

Rio Tinto will become the owner of the world's largest fleet of driverless trucks, following a deal to buy at least 150 of these vehicles from Komatsu Limited over the next four years.

The new trucks, which will start arriving in 2012, will be used in Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore mines in Western Australia and can be controlled from its Operations Centre in Perth more than 1500km away.

This is the latest development in Rio Tinto's Mine of the FutureTM programme, which introduces next-generation technologies for mining operations with the aim of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving health, safety and environmental performance.

The implementation of these vehicles will mean more material can be moved more quickly and safely, creating a direct increase in productivity.

In Tokyo, Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese and Komatsu Limited president and chief executive officer Kunio Noji, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the supply and purchase of the trucks.

“This announcement further reinforces our longstanding alliance with Komatsu. We have been partnering with Komatsu, using their advanced truck technology at our mines, for almost 20 years,” said Mr Albanese.

“Autonomous haulage is an important component in our Mine of the FutureTM programme. These 150 new trucks will work with our pioneering Operations Centre that integrates and manages the logistics of 14 mines, three ports and two railways. These technologies are revolutionising the way large-scale mining is done, creating attractive hi-tech jobs, and helping us to improve safety and environmental performance and reduce carbon emissions.”

Rio Tinto has been testing the world's first commercial autonomous mining haulage system, the Komatsu Autonomous Haulage System, in the Pilbara since December 2008. During the trials, the AHS technology has demonstrated benefits in health, safety and productivity.

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