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Employer declares autonomous roll out is a success

BHP worker meeting
BHP worker meeting

A multinational resources producer celebrated positive results from one of the world’s largest automated deployments.

BHP’s autonomous drill fleet has successfully operated for more than 479,607 hours across its Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) business.

A total of 26 machines based at five Pilbara mine sites independently removed more than 25 million metres of soil and rock material since the year 2016. This equates to completing the 1179km journey between Perth and Newman more than 21 times.

“The autonomous drilling program sought to eliminate the risk of safety incidents and serious injuries to our people and, by removing them from the drilling frontline, we have also seen an increase in overall drill productivity,” WAIO asset president Brandon Craig said in a public statement.

“This is an exciting milestone in WAIO’s autonomous journey and one we should all be proud of.”

All rigs are remotely monitored by 32 crew members and one engineer at the Integrated Remote Operations (IPRO) Centre in Perth. They are touted to belong to one of the world’s largest autonomous fleets.

The full timeline is as follows:

  • November 2016: Yandi completes a successful 18-month trial of three autonomous drill rigs, paving the way for a staged approach across other WAIO mine sites
  • January 2017: Mining Area C introduces autonomous drilling
  • October 2017: Newman’s Eastern Ridge mine implements autonomous drill rigs
  • December 2017: Jimblebar introduces autonomous drilling
  • March 2018: Newman’s Whaleback mine implements autonomous drill rigs
  • 2020: South Flank rolls out autonomous drill rigs, making WAIO’s drill rig program fully autonomous.

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AMSJ April 2022