Caterpillar Converts Arizona Mine to Autonomous

Nov. 17, 2023
Caterpillar will implement its Command for hauling system in the 33 trucks.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details about the conversion process.

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) will convert is fleet of 33 Cat 793 haul trucks at its Bagdad mine in Arizona to an autonomous haulage system (AHS) using Cat MineStar Command for hauling. The mine conversion will take three years and is expected to improve safety, optimize the fleet, reduce emissions, and set the stage for future electrification, according to the company.

“We look forward to partnering with Caterpillar to become the first U.S. copper mine to implement a fully autonomous haulage system and are excited about the numerous benefits it will bring to our Bagdad operation and employees,” said Kathleen Quirk, president, in a statement.

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The implementation process requires collaboration between Cat's MineStar team, dealer, and mine operator, according to the company. No two sites are the same, so evaluation of the existing site includes its employees, infrastructure, servers, networks, and equipment. The MineStar team and the local Cat dealer then design the system, procure and ship the hardware and software, and install it.

Implementation then requires the mine's operations team to be built and trained, a process Caterpillar calls "change enablement." The Command training program has three modules: Command Run Team training, Command Technician training, and Train-the-Trainer for manned equipment operators who will be interfacing with the system in the autonomous zone.

The company also has an internal team of Command operators that can assist customers such as Freeport-McMoRan in initial deployments of the system. They also provide long-term applications support consultation.

Caterpillar has more than 620 autonomous trucks operating with 15 customers on three continents. While operating autonomously, these trucks have hauled more than 6.9 billion tons of material and traveled more than 143 million miles without causing any reported injuries, according to the company.

“We are pleased to collaborate with FCX as they transition to fully autonomous haulage at Bagdad,” said Denise Johnson, group president of Caterpillar resource industries. “The Cat 793 haul truck remains Caterpillar’s most popular autonomous truck model and is well proven to enhance safety, increase productivity, and reduce idle time across multiple operations, including copper mines.”

Located approximately 100 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, the Bagdad mine is a porphyry copper deposit containing both sulfide and oxide mineralization. It consists of a near 85,000-ton-per-day concentrator that produces copper and molybdenum concentrate and a solution extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) plant that produces 9 million pounds of copper cathode per year.

Source: Caterpillar

About the Author

Rod Sutton

I have served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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