FORTESCUE Metals Group has celebrated what it says is an “important milestone” in the rollout of autonomous haulage at the Chichester Hub with the conversion of the 100th autonomous truck.

The full conversion of 108 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub, which comprises the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, is expected to be completed in September 2020.

Since the introduction of autonomous haulage system technology at Fortescue in 2012, 168 trucks have been converted across the Company’s Solomon and Chichester Hubs.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said their AHS deployment represented the largest fleet conversion to autonomous haulage in the industry.

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“Our history of embracing leading edge technology has ensured Fortescue remains at the lowest end of the global cost curve and remains fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across our business to ensure we continue to deliver enhanced returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders,” Ms Gaines said.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the Automated Mining Projects team has also achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program with zero harm to any team members.”

Workforce skills development are said to have been a key aspect of Fortescue’s automation project.

“Training is at the heart of everything we do at Fortescue and as we continue the integration of autonomous trucks across our sites, this ethos has guided our efforts to ensure no redundancies due to automation and to deliver significant benefits to employees from the opportunities offered by this project,” Ms Gaines said

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