The rise of autonomous haul truck fleets may have been initially driven by the rapid escalation of the cost of equipment operators, but the actual improvements reported by the major iron ore miners far exceeds the simple reduction in workforce. Utilising cost models developed for feasibility studies and mining contract modelling, the limits of cost improvements due to simple labour reductions are compared to those achieved by the early autonomous fleet adopters and through traditional process improvement techniques such as fleet class upgrades or hot-seating of equipment. As autonomous fleet implementation matures, it is likely that the gains seen by current adopters will seem minor compared to the limits generally governed by the limit of equipment utilisation. This ultimate limit is explored through time utilisation models, which were also developed for use in feasibility studies and mining contract modelling.
Miller, B H and Price, R, 2016. Autonomous Haul System Savings – It’s Not about Less Truckies but Better Truckies!, in Proceedings Ninth AusIMM Open Pit Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 2–10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).