Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri Delivers First Iron Ore

A stacker delivers the first ore from Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Western Australia.
Rio Tinto has delivered first ore from the Gudai-Darri iron ore mine as the company brings its first greenfield mine online in the Pilbara, Western Australia, in more than a decade. Rio Tinto described the operation as its most technologically advanced mine. With an expected life of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 million metric tons (mt), the mine will support around 600 ongoing permanent roles.

“The commissioning of Gudai-Darri sets a new standard for Rio Tinto mine developments through its deployment of technology and innovation to enhance productivity and improve safety,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said.

The $3.1 billion project features an unprecedented deployment of technology, much of it industry-leading. This includes the use of robotics for the ore sampling laboratory as well as for distribution of parts in the new workshop.

From autonomous trucks, trains and drills, standard across many Rio Tinto mines in the Pilbara, to a full digital twin of the processing plant, which allows teams to monitor and respond to data collected from the plant. The same digital asset data is used to provide a feature rich, interactive 3D environment for virtual reality training. These autonomous assets are monitored remotely from Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre in Perth about 1,500 kilometers (km) from the mine.

“Gudai-Darri represents a stepchange in the deployment of automation and technology within our iron ore business and a fantastic demonstration of the talent, ingenuity and capability that exists in Western Australia, a region which is now known globally for its technical excellence and innovation,” Trott said. “Gudai-Darri’s combination of data and analytics, machine learning and automation, will make this mine safer and more productive.”

Gudai-Darri is Rio Tinto’s first greenfield mine in the Pilbara in more than a decade and a multibillion-dollar investment in the state of Western Australia that will operate for decades to come. Gudai-Darri has 23 CAT 793F autonomous haul trucks and three CAT MD6310 autonomous drills. The trucks implement real-time ore tracking using sensors to provide live dig face progression, while data-informed modelling from the drills helps to build more accurate assessments of existing ground conditions and improve safety.

The mine also uses the world’s first autonomous water carts. Used primarily for dust suppression, they will enhance productivity by enabling mine operations to digitally track water consumption and reduce waste. The vehicle’s intelligent on-board system detects dry and dusty conditions on site, triggering the application of water to roads to keep them in good condition. At the warehouse, four automatic guided vehicles will handle pallet frames, which will reduce manual handling and improve safety with the introduction of laser obstacle scanners and auto stop functions.

In the field, Rio Tinto is equipping its people with access to real-time data, connecting teams to each other, their work and their assets. Through tablets, team members can access many of the applications they require out in the field thereby eliminating the need for paper- based systems and reducing unnecessary travel.

A solar farm with 83,000 solar panels will convert sunlight into 34 megawatts of electricity, which will supply about a third of the mine’s average electricity demand once construction is complete in August.

As featured in Womp 2022 Vol 07 -