Rio Tinto to deploy world's first fully autonomous water trucks
(Kitco News) - Rio Tinto announced today that the company will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water trucks at its $2.6 billion Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
The company said that new vehicles, primarily used for dust suppression on site, will enhance productivity by enabling mine operations to digitally track water consumption and reduce waste.
Developed through a successful collaboration with Caterpillar, three water trucks will join Gudai-Darri’s fleet of Caterpillar heavy mobile equipment including autonomous haul trucks and production drills. The vehicle’s intelligent on-board system detects dry and dusty conditions on site, triggering the application of water to roads to keep them in good condition, the company said.
Rio Tinto explained that refilling process is also completely automated, with the water trucks recognising when it is time to refill, prompting them to self-drive to the water stand, park and top-up before returning to the field. They boast a 160,000-litre tank capacity, a 33 per cent increase on Rio Tinto’s largest water truck which has a tank capacity of 120,000-litres.
Once deployed, the water trucks will be integrated into Rio Tinto’s existing Autonomous Haulage System which has been shown to significantly improve safety by reducing the risks associated with operators working around heavy machinery.
Gudai-Darri is 100 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, is located approximately 35 kilometres north-west of Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine site, and about 110 kilometres from the town of Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Construction continues to progress with production ramp-up on track for early 2022. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio Tinto’s flagship iron ore product.