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Roy Hill, Epiroc, and ASI create world’s largest autonomous mine

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Global Mining Review,

Roy Hill has announced it will expand its autonomous haulage system (AHS) from March 2023, converting its mixed fleet of 96 conventional haul trucks to driverless operation and creating the world’s largest autonomous mine.

Over three years ago, Gina Rinehart, Executive Chair Roy Hill (and majority owner Hancock Prospecting), together with her Executives, travelled overseas to meet with autonomous operators and chose to recommend global mining equipment and solutions provider Epiroc and automation specialist ASI Mining to the Roy Hill Board.

Since then, Roy Hill, Epiroc, and ASI have worked in partnership to develop a world-first autonomous haul truck solution that is interoperable and scalable regardless of manufacturer, known as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agnostic.

The project’s production verification phase is complete and 10 converted haul trucks fitted with vehicle automation kits and in cab clients are using ASI Mining’s Mobius traffic management and on-board automation systems to navigate the mine’s virtual map, communicating with ancillary vehicles and the control room.

The AHS fleet is meeting the desired safety and productivity metrics and achieving higher productivity rates than the conventional haul truck fleet, which were key objectives of the programme over the past two years.

Autonomous haul trucks are running 24/7 in a dedicated autonomous operating zone, interacting safely with two excavators and numerous ancillary vehicles at intersections, waste dumps, and load areas.

The project’s progressive expansion will see autonomous haul truck numbers grow steadily from March 2023 and throughout 2023. The autonomous fleet will comprise 54 Caterpillar 793F trucks, 24 Hitachi EH5000, and 18 Hitachi EH4000. In addition, more than 200 modified ancillary vehicles will interact with the autonomous haul trucks.

Gerhard Veldsman, Roy Hill Chief Executive, comments:

“Roy Hill’s in a strong position to continue its transition to autonomous haulage early this year with our teams on site and at the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth now skilled in autonomous operations.

“Our Executive Chairman, Mrs Gina Rinehart, and our owners Hancock Prospecting, Marubeni, POSCO and China Steel Corporation, have supported Roy Hill’s Smart Mine automation journey from the start with their continued commitment to our people and the safe productivity offered by Roy Hill’s Smart Mine vision.”

Mel Torrie, ASI Chief Executive, said:

“While this milestone achievement enables Roy Hill to rapidly expand their AHS capacity, it also represents a major signal to the rest of the mining community. It signifies that our OEM agnostic Mobius autonomous haulage system has reached a level of performance and maturity that can now provide value to the broader market.”

Epiroc’s President and CEO Helena Hedblom said:

“The ground-breaking automation work together with Roy Hill and ASI Mining over the past couple of years has been successful and very exciting.

“The team working on this is doing a fantastic job, and we are now looking forward to collaborating with Roy Hill in ultimately achieving the world’s largest autonomous mine. This will bring significant benefits for both safety and productivity.”

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