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Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill mine gears up for driverless trucks

Driverless trucks are expected to be phased in at Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia from the second half of 2018.
The likely timetable for the adoption of autonomous vehicles was flagged by Barry Fitzgerald, the chief executive of Roy Hill, at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"We, I think, are firmly of the view that autonomous trucks are the way of the future, which is clearly a major industry trend. At this point in time we are working towards looking at starting the final implementation, or the phased implementation, probably in the second half of next year," he said.

"The implementation model is driven by resources and as we develop the pit. So that when you go to autonomy, as we develop different pits we need to do it pit by pit by pit," he said.

Mr Fitzgerald said that eventually Roy Hill's autonomous truck fleet would number a bit over 70, very similar to the current truck fleet.

Asked if the implementation of driverless trucks would mean job losses, or re-deployment of staff, he said: "I think it's a mixture of both. You need to remember that Roy Hill as a business is continuing to ramp up though. We have got another 24 trucks, the first of which are being delivered at the moment, we've also got a contractor there, so there is a transition."

He also said: "We're of the view that people do need to achieve their potential. And so we will work with them, and I think you'll see that there'll be some people re-skilled (and) re-trained. Some people may choose not to stay with us because obviously they may like driving trucks or doing something else. And so we will continue on to train and develop people, we will expect to redeploy people, but we'd expect there will be a reduction in people long term, not necessarily from our current numbers of people."

Mr Fitzgerald also said that Roy Hill had recently commissioned its third autonomous drill, with more to be commissioned soon.

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