Mineral Resources autonomous prime movers arrive at Onslow

(Image source: Mineral Resources) Kenworth C509 prime mover en route to Onslow.
(Image source: Mineral Resources) Kenworth C509 prime mover en route to Onslow.

The first convoy of Kenworth C509 prime movers with autonomous technology has arrived at Mineral Resources’ (ASX: MIN) Onslow iron project in WA.

The prime movers will be based at Mineral Resources’ Truck Maintenance Facility near Onslow while they undertake trials and verification before beginning autonomous operations.

Mineral Resources director of technology and innovation David Geraghty says the arrival of the vehicles is an exciting milestone for the project.

“The prime movers are being progressively fitted out with autonomous technology by autonomy specialist Hexagon. It’s fantastic to see the first batch arrive in Onslow in preparation of first ore mid-2024,” he said.

“They will initially commence as manned operations, with trials and verifications with safety drivers to occur later in the year before we transition to autonomous operations.”

These single-engine movers are the biggest in the world and each can haul 330t of iron ore. The vehicles will travel on a 150km dedicated fenced haul road which runs from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the Mineral Resources transhipping terminal at the Port of Ashburton.

Mineral Resources project manager Marcus Kelly says the autonomous movers would enhance road safety by eliminating interactions with public vehicles.

“The haul road is separate to public roads, with tunnels under New West Coastal Highway and Onslow Road, and fenced to keep stock and wild animals off the road,” he said.

“Autonomy in mining isn’t about replacing people – it’s about taking them out of dangerous situations and employing their skills elsewhere.”

The full 150-vehicle fleet will be fitted with autonomous technology at a rate of around 10 movers per month.