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Caterpillar, ioneer complete agreement for autonomous haul trucks at Rhyolite Ridge

CAT has been heavily investing in research and development of digital solutions, such as CAT MineStar, with the goal of transforming the way miners manage their business. (Image: Caterpillar | YouTube)

ioneer Ltd (ASX: INR, Nasdaq: IONR), an emerging lithium–boron supplier, has announced the completion of a Technology System Supply Agreement with Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

This definitive agreement builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year and solidifies the early introduction of Cat MineStar Command for hauling, Autonomous Haul System (AHS) at ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Esmerelda County, Nevada.

Fully integrated mining automation systems offer unprecedented improvements in operator safety, equipment utilization, and site productivity.

The results of the Rhyolite Ridge feasibility study in February 2021 showed the viability of AHS at the mine and the proposed application of AHS could positively impact the overall cost structure of the operations. Cat autonomous mining trucks have safely hauled nearly 5 billion tonnes of material worldwide, driving over 177 million kilometers (110 million miles) without a lost-time injury.

The operations are scheduled to start in 2024 with a fleet of Cat 785 next generation mining trucks equipped with Command for hauling, and the fleet is scheduled to expand significantly in 2028.

All support equipment will feature the latest MineStar technology utilizing high-precision GPS and real-time analytics to maximise efficiency and accuracy in material loading.

This will be the first greenfield operation in North America to utilize AHS and will mark the expansion of Command for hauling automation technology to the 140-tonne class Cat785 next generation mining truck.

The equipment, technology, and services for the first five years of operation is valued at approximately $100 million and may be financed through Caterpillar Financial Services.