Article by Harvey Glickenstein
On 18 May 2018, Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, announced that the autonomously operated iron ore trains that have been tested in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as described in the March 2018 issue of IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine have passed their tests and been granted accreditation by Australia’s Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator.
Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations link 16 mines to four port terminals. Once the entire system is placed in service, planned to be completed before the end of 2018, Rio Tinto’s Pilbara mine, production, and delivery operations to the west coast ports will be the largest autonomous heavy-haul rail operation in the world.
Rio Tinto subsidiary, the Iron Ore Company of Canada, has operated unmanned rail service in eastern Canada for many years, but that operation was solely within the mine property, whereas the Pilbara operation will be all of the way from the mine to the ports of Western Australia.