Rio Tinto has approved $2.1 billion for two massive iron ore projects in the Pilbara

Rio Tinto's Koodaideri Mine

Image via Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto have approved a $2.1 billion joint venture endeavour that will see the delivery of two high-grade iron ore projects in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The joint venture, in which Rio Tinto holds 53%, includes Japanese powerhouse Mitsui, along with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal.

With construction starting next year, the $2.1b endeavour is anticipated to deliver 1200 construction jobs to the Pilbara region across the two projects.

A key feature of the endeavour is the planned use of 34 haul trucks retrofitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology.

The autonomous technology will see each vehicle equipped with a high precision GPS controller system, wireless network capabilities, and an obstacle detection system.

These autonomous trucks, which utilise IoT (Internet of Things) technology, will be able to operate through a complex load, haul and dump cycle, while being able to easily communicate and integrate with other systems, dozers, loads and shovels.

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Rio Tinto’s use of advanced autonomous technology is nothing new, and fits in line with the brand’s heavy focus on continued technological innovation.

Rio Tinto already uses a variety of autonomous vehicles, with a collection of autonomous trucks and trains currently in use across Australia.

Chris Salisbury, chief executive at Rio Tinto, said “the additional Robe Valley deposits will enable us to continue to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers across Asia.”

“The approval of these two projects highlights the strong pipeline of development options within our portfolio as we remain focused on our value-over-volume strategy.”

IoT technology affords machinery the added capability of sharing usage and fault data to a centralised system, which then processes the data and helps management streamline maintenance planning and mitigate surprise breakdowns.

  Source: Rio Tinto, Komatsu & Australian Mining

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