Caterpillar surpasses 5-billion-tonne milestone of material hauled autonomously
3 Oct 2022
Cat dump trucks achieve a mining industry first for autonomous haulage, achieved in less than 10 years
Dump trucks equipped with Caterpillar’s Cat MineStar Command for hauling have collectively moved over five billion tonnes autonomously and are on course to break previous records of materials hauled in a calendar year with projections to surpass 1.4 billion tonnes (1.57 billion tons) in 2022.
This comes around nine months after Cat autonomous trucks reached the 4-billion-tonne (4.4-billion-ton) autonomously hauled milestone using the MineStar Command.
Cat said in a statement that currently more than 550 mining trucks are equipped with the Command for hauling, operating across three continents. Over the last nine years, trucks equipped with Command for hauling have journeyed nearly the average distance between the Earth and Mars with zero loss-time injuries.
Denise Johnson, group president of Caterpillar Resource Industries, said: “In 2013, we placed our first fleets of autonomous trucks in Western Australia at FMG Solomon and BHP Jimblebar. Since that time, trucks using Command for hauling have safely traveled nearly 200 million km (124.3 million mi), more than twice the experience in autonomous operations of any automobile manufacturer,” comments. “Caterpillar has grown the number of autonomous trucks in operation by 40% in the past two years. We believe that automation is one of many keys to implement technology that unlocks the value miners need when it comes to the energy transition toward more sustainable operations.”
Marc Cameron, vice president of Caterpillar Resource Industries, added: “The new Cat 798 AC electric drive trucks replacing BHP’s entire haul truck fleet at the Escondida mine will feature technologies that advance the site’s key initiatives, including autonomy and decarbonization. The agreement allows Escondida | BHP to accelerate the implementation of its autonomy plans by transitioning the fleet with autonomous haulage system (AHS) technology.”
Caterpillar has enabled 13 customers at 23 different locations to succeed with full site autonomous haulage solutions. Starting with iron ore at Solomon and Jimblebar, Cat’s solutions now manage oil sands, copper, gold, coal, lithium and phosphate, said the company.
Spanning the 190- to 370t class sizes, the Cat 789D, 793D, 793F, 797F, and electric drive 794 AC and 798 AC mining trucks are capable of fully autonomous operation. Retrofit kits allow miners to expand Command for hauling to existing Cat mining trucks. Since 2019, Caterpillar has won eight of nine greenfield autonomy sites.
Sean McGinnis, vice president and general manager for Cat Mining, said: “In 2023, we will expand Command for hauling to the 139t truck class at ioneer Ltd’s Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron mine. This is the first greenfield project in North America to use an AHS. We are now seeing a shift toward autonomy requested on new Cat trucks. Whereas large mines with fleet sizes of more than 70 trucks were the early adopters of the technology, we are seeing economic viability for autonomy at smaller mines with a fleet of less than 15 trucks.”
Caterpillar said it continuously monitors the industry for opportunities to broaden the use of automation to help drive safety and efficiency. Beyond expansion of Command for hauling to the Cat 785 for ioneer, Caterpillar sees potential for Cat autonomy in quarry and aggregates. Additionally, Caterpillar’s AHS technology has been deployed on the Cat 789D autonomous water truck (AWT) operating at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Australia, the world’s first AWT, for automated watering of haul roads.