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MinRes’ prime movers on the move to Onslow

The first convoy of Kenworth C509 prime movers featuring autonomous technology has made its way to the Pilbara to support Mineral Resources’ (MinRes) Onslow Iron project.

The prime movers were transported via drop-deck trailers, with the trip from Perth to Onslow spanning more than 1,280km and taking two and half days.

The vehicles will be based at MinRes’ Truck Maintenance Facility near Onslow while they undertake trials and verification before commencing autonomous operations.

MinRes Director of Technology and Innovation David Geraghty said their arrival marks an exciting milestone for the project, with autonomous road trains set to become a game changer in the industry.

“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,” David 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.”

The single-engine road trains are the biggest in the world and can each haul 330 tonnes of iron ore.

Autonomous road trains will travel on a 150km dedicated and fenced haul road running from Ken’s Bore mine site to the MinRes Transhipping Terminal at the Port of Ashburton.

MinRes Project Manager Marcus Kenny said the road trains would enhance road safety by eliminating interactions with public vehicles.

“The haul road is separate to public roads, with tunnels under North West Coastal Highway and Onslow Road, and fenced to keep stock and wild animals off the road,” Marcus 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 fleet of 150 trucks will be fitted with autonomous technology at a rate of around 10 each month.

A range of WA-based jobs will be created to support autonomous haulage operations including automation specialists, dispatch and logistic offices, mechanics and auto electricians.

Learn more about our Onslow Iron project.