Autonomous haulage trucks have been operating at Fortescue's Solomon hub since 2012.

Fortescue to add more autonomous trucks

Tuesday, 27 June, 2017 - 10:42

Fortescue Metals Group will deploy a further 112 autonomous trucks across its Pilbara hubs during the next three years as part of its ongoing innovation plans.

The Perth-based iron ore miner said today it would convert 12 haulage trucks at its Solomon hub with autonomous technology, adding to its existing automated fleet of 56 haulage vehicles operating at the Firetail and Kings Valley mines since 2012, which it says has improved productivity by 20 per cent.

Fortescue also plans to convert a further 100 trucks with the automated technology for operation at the Chichester hub, while negotiations concerning upgrades to the IT network at its Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines are under way.

The miner is also exploring the option of trialling the use of a relocatable conveyor at Firetail.

“Together, these projects will contribute to sustained productivity improvements across the business through reduced haulage costs to offset rising strip ratios,” Fortescue said in a statement.

“The investment will occur over the three-year period FY18 to FY20 and will be included in the company’s sustaining capital expenditure.”

Fortescue said benefits would be partially received during the coming financial year.

In contrast to other big iron ore miners in the Pilbara, Fortescue has not pursued the development of driverless trains.

Chief executive Nev Power said the push for innovation would help Fortescue remain at the lower end of the global cost curve.

“Our focus remains on improving safety and increasing productivity and efficiency to deliver ongoing cost reductions,” he said.

“These projects will encompass technological advancement, workforce skills development and collaboration with our suppliers to harness the best ideas and position Fortescue strongly for the future.”

Fortescue shares were 0.7 per cent higher to $4.72 each at 10:45am.