Australia's big miners add more driverless trucks

Australia's biggest mining companies plan to add more driverless trucks to their operations in the western Pilbara region to reduce costs and protect profits against future price dips, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO, LSE: RIO) said its program for autonomous — a.k.a. driverless — trucks was well advanced and it has three mines deploying them.

The company said its mine automation is focused on improving cost competitiveness and efficiency.

At the Yandicoogina open-pit mine, Rio has 10 driverless trucks in full operation.

At the Nammuldi mine, the company has five autonomous trucks and five more are scheduled to be delivered on site over the coming weeks, according to Mining Australia. For the Hope Downs 4 mine, Rio is putting together another three vehicles, which will eventually be part of a fleet of about 19 driverless trucks.

Australian iTnews reported in 2012 that Rio ordered 150 autonomous trucks from Japan's Komatsu for delivery during the next four years.

BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP, LSE: BLT) told ABC it had completed a trial of Caterpillar driverless trucks at its coal mine in New Mexico. It plans to start using 12 autonomous haulers this year at its Jimblebar iron ore mine in the Pilbara.

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) said it has future plans to implement automated trucks at its Solomon mine, also in Western Australia.

Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), the world's largest heavy equipment manufacturer, has a complete line of high-tech autonomous mining equipment, including driverless dozers and haulers.

Related: Caterpillar says miners are buying autonomous trucks to operate more safely

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