A Milestone in the Transportation of Mineral Resource Pioneers

Mineral Resources (MRL) carried out a successful demonstration of its three-trailer automated road train platoon, with each road train carrying 300 tons of iron ore.

In a world first, the demonstration highlighted the success of the company’s autonomous road train pilot project, which has been underway at its Yilgarn iron ore operations since late 2021.

MRL partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.

MRL’s general manager of mining services, Mike Gray, said automating a platoon of road trains of this size had never been done before and he was delighted that his company was leading the world with this breakthrough innovation.

“It’s been an exciting journey over the past year and we’ve now achieved a world-first platoon of three autonomous road trains, which is a game-changer for us,” Gray said.

“It’s a tremendously proud moment to see our standalone project move so quickly from office concept to iron ore reality.”

According to the company, MRL is renowned for providing innovative, low-cost solutions throughout the mining infrastructure supply chain.

“Our self-driving road trains will form a critical part of the profitable supply chain unlocking stranded resources in the Pilbara region as part of the Ashburton Hub iron ore project,” the company said.

Gray said MRL has introduced a number of new technologies over the past few years to improve the safety and operational efficiency of our long-haul road train fleet and that autonomous road trains will take us to the next level.

“The technology will initially be adopted for our own operations, with a view to offering the solution to our large Tier 1 customer base as we grow our Mining Services division,” he said.

“As we prepare for the Ashburton Hub iron ore project and seek to unlock tons of stranded iron ore, our self-driving road trains will be the lifeline between mine and port.

“As the first of its kind in the world, it opens up new opportunities for us, as we can test the technology ourselves before offering it to our Tier 1 customers.”

President of Hexagon’s Mining Division, Nick Hare, said Hexagon likes working with MRL because of their ability to get ideas into production quickly.

“We appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership position in sensors, software and autonomous solutions. Mineral Resources is an ideal partner for a project of this size and complexity,” said Hare.