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Autonomous Trucks in the Australian Mining Industry: Everything You Need to Know!

When the topic of automation is brought up, it’s not uncommon for people to express concern about how it will affect jobs in the mining industry. There is little doubt that the impact of technology on jobs is real and can be significant.

Australia is leading the world in the use of autonomous haulage trucks

Australia is leading the world in the adoption of autonomous haulage trucks, which is great news for those working in the mining industry. According to data from GlobalData’s Mining Intelligence Center, as of May 2021, there were 769 autonomous haul trucks operating in surface mines worldwide, a 61% increase from the previous year. Of these, a vast majority of over 550 trucks are being used in Australian mines, with Canada coming in a distant second with around 140 trucks.

Some of the leading companies contributing to this trend in Australia include RioTinto, Fortescue, BHP and Suncor Energy, with a combined total of 600+ autonomous haulage trucks in operation.

Who Operates an Autonomous Truck?

Autonomous trucks are operated by a supervisory system and a central controller, rather than a by a driver. The system uses pre-defined GPS courses to automatically navigate haul roads and intersections and knows actual locations, speeds and directions of all vehicles at all times.

Why are Autonomous Trucks being used?

Rio Tinto estimates that in 2018 alone, that each of their autonomous trucks was estimated to have operated on average 700 hours more than conventional haul trucks. All while achieving 15% lower costs. So increased productivity and reduced costs, the advantages are clear. Another bonus, is that they take truck operators out of harm’s way, reducing the safety risks associated with working around heavy machinery for individuals.

What training do you need to operate an autonomous truck?

If you are already working at a large mining company, it is good idea to see what training you can get in-house. Mining companies would always prefer to retrain internal staff where possible.

For those looking to get into this area of work, we strongly suggest that you check out the certificate courses at available at your local TAFE in Autonomous operations.

Why you should jump on the autonomous truck trend

Autonomous trucks increase productivity, increase safety and reduce costs. This means that not only are they here to stay, but you will be seeing a lot more of them. We recommend you seek out training and get ahead of those that have not got on board with this trend yet. The sooner you work in this field, the sooner you will become experienced and highly sought after.

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