The move signals a 15-fold expansion from its previous plan to double the fleet to 10 trucks. This is the latest development in Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program, which introduces next-generation technologies for mining operations with the aim of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving health, safety and environmental performance.

Implementing autonomous haulage on this scale means more material can be moved more quickly and safely, creating a direct increase in productivity. “We have been partnering with Komatsu, using their advanced truck technology at our mines, for almost 20 years,” said Tom Albanese, CEO, Rio Tinto. Autonomous haulage is an important component in our Mine of the Future program. These 150 new trucks will work with our pioneering Operations Center that integrates and manages the logistics of 14 mines, three ports and two railways. These technologies are revolutionizing the way large-scale mining is done, creating attractive hi-tech jobs, and helping us to improve safety and environmental performance and reduce carbon emissions.”

“Komatsu and Rio Tinto have developed a strong alliance throughout the years,” said Kunio Noji, president and CEO, Komatsu. “We are confident that our leading-edge AHS Technology will accelerate Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future objectives through improving safety and mine operations.”

Rio Tinto has been testing the Komatsu Autonomous Haulage System, the world’s first commercial autonomous mining haulage system, in the Pilbara since December 2008. Elsewhere in its Mine of the Future program, Rio Tinto will begin more widespread deployment of its automated drills, both in the Pilbara and at coal and copper mines.