Rio Tinto has achieved the first delivery of iron ore by autonomous train in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The autonomous train, consisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled over 280km from Tom Price mining operations to the port of Cape Lambert on July 10.
It was monitored remotely by operators from Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre in Perth more than 1500km away.
The inaugural journey follows regulatory approval in May for the company’s $940 million AutoHaul program.
“The safe first delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train is a key milestone for AutoHaul,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director rail, port and core services Ivan Vella said.
“The program will deliver the world’s first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network, operating the world’s largest and longest robots.
“This programme symbolises both the pioneering spirit and innovative talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and productivity, as well as enabling greater flexibility across our operations.
“We will continue to ensure our autonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of conditions we experience in the Pilbara, where we record more than eight million kilometres of train travel each year.
“We are working closely with drivers during this transition period as we prepare our employees for new ways of working as a result of automation.”