Fortescue Metals Group embraces power of automation

November 14, 2019

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is one of the companies leading the way in the application of autonomous mining equipment and recently, it moved 1 Gt (1 billion st) of material with autonomous technology.

FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines and chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman are scheduled to speak about their commitment to innovation and technology at an industry event in Australia in November, the West Australian reported.

Gaines said the miner’s early adoption of automation had already paid dividends and helped it hit ambitious stretch targets on its projects.
“We were the first in Western Australia to control a railway from outside a region of operation and the first company in the world to deploy Caterpillar autonomous haulage on a commercial scale,” she said.

“Fortescue is proud to be at the forefront of technology with our mining operations set to become the first in the world to be fully autonomous by mid-2020.”

FMG reached the the 1 Gt (1.1 billion st) milestone with the help of the Cat MineStar autonomous haulage technology, Command for hauling. To reach the milestone, the mine’s fleet of autonomous trucks traveled more than 33.5 million km without a single safety incident.

Autonomous haulage has delivered a 30 percent improvement in productivity for the site and Command is helping FMG achieve its goal of leveraging technology and innovation to increase operational efficiency.

Lilleyman said technological innovation was the driving force behind the miner’s ability to capitalize on market opportunities, including different product and grade mixes for export customers.

“We own and operate an infrastructure and supply chain where innovation in exploration, ore processing and plant design have delivered on our strategy to efficiently deliver products from mine to market,” he said. “In addition, our fully integrated operations and marketing strategy has provided us with a unique advantage to capitalize on market opportunities with a product mix that is closely aligned to our customers’ needs.

“Investment in innovation is setting Fortescue up for the future and underpinning our growth projects at Eliwana and Iron Bridge, where we will build on our development and construction capability by utilizing the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency.”

Fortescue has started work on its $1.8 billion replacement mine at Eliwana and approved the development of the $3.8 billion Iron Bridge magnetite project.

Caterpillar and FMG have a strong history in autonomous haulage and continue to build on the success of the Command system. In 2012, FMG was the first mine in the world to commercially implement Cat autonomous haulage technology and has since expanded to 137 autonomous trucks now in operation. By mid-2020, FMG expects to have a total of 175 trucks operating autonomously at its Solomon and Chichester Hubs – making Fortescue the first iron ore company in the world to have a fully autonomous haulage operation.

 Because Command can operate on trucks made by other manufacturers, FMG’s existing fleet of Komatsu 930E haul trucks can operate alongside its Cat 789D and 793F trucks.
Photo: An autonomous haul truck at FMG’s Solomon Mine in Australia.
 

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