Cat Installs Autonomous System at Australian Mine

October 4, 2013

Caterpillar and Fortescue Metals Group have progressed with the delivery, installation and support of a Cat MineStar System for the second phase of the Solomon iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. 

The technology suite was implemented for the 20 million-ton-per-year Firetail manned mine, in October 2012. For phase two, eight Command for hauling Cat 793F CMD trucks have been commissioned for the 40 million-ton-per-year the Kings mine as part of an autonomous mining solution.

The mine plan calls for a progressive ramp up to 45 autonomous trucks over the next several years. In addition, other Cat MineStar System capability sets, Fleet, Terrain, Detect, and Health, are being utilized across the mobile equipment fleet, including support equipment and light vehicles. 

Working closely with Fortescue and its mining contractor, Leighton Contractors, both Caterpillar and the Cat dealer in Western Australia, WesTrac, are providing a full solution for managing, operating and supporting Cat MineStar System and Command for hauling.

"Caterpillar is pleased to team with Fortescue and Leighton Contractors for the operations of our autonomous mining solution,” said Chris Curfman, Caterpillar Global Mining president, Mining Sales & Support. “Working with all the partners, we look forward to managing the entire Cat MineStar System suite of technology products at Solomon in order to drive process efficiency, increase productivity and enhance safety. The Solomon project is an excellent fit for our progression to the next level of technology and sustainable mining—with the ultimate goal of delivering greater value for our customers."

“Fortescue’s Solomon mine is the first project of its kind for Caterpillar,” said Hans Haefeli, Caterpillar Advanced Components & Systems Division vice president. “Utilizing the entire Cat MineStar System suite of surface mining technologies, both autonomous and manned machines are producing iron ore from two mines at Solomon. The depth and breadth of the Cat precision technology, coupled with skilled control personnel, is designed to enable the dual fleet to work safely and efficiently and to reach production goals quickly.”

“At full operations, Solomon will have a workforce of about 1,200 people," said Fortescue CEO Nev Power. "Autonomous haulage will provide a highly efficient, productive and safe environment that complements manned operations. It also provides new opportunities for people with different skill sets and enhances safety through reduced interaction between heavy equipment and people in mining areas utilizing collision avoidance technology.”