A market leader offers autonomous mining insight during a demo at its proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona

by steve fiscor, editor

Autonomous haulage systems (AHS) will have a pronounced impact on future mining operations. Driverless trucks run continuously and more efficiently than their manned counterparts. AHS will improve everything associated with the mining operation from safety to operations to maintenance. They will also change the approach to mine planning and scheduling. The 8-hour production shift, for example, was based on miner fatigue levels. Production shifts in the future might be based on the refueling needs of the excavator or they might disappear entirely.

The ideal mine plan for autonomous operations has less intersections than traditional open-pit operations. The dump and loading areas will likely be a little larger. Haul road design and maintenance will be even more important, especially if the autonomous fleet is interacting with manned vehicles.
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