Newmont’s Boddington operation, which has the distinction of being Western Australia’s largest gold operation, has met a significant target with the gold industry’s first autonomous haulage system: 100 million tonnes (110 million tons) hauled.

Autonomous 793F Newmont releaseThe milestone was achieved using Cat’s MineStar Command for hauling, with a fleet that includes 36 Cat 793F autonomous and four 793D staffed mining trucks. For scope, the deep open-pit surface mine delivered 19.7 million grams (696,000 ounces) of gold and 4.6 million gold equivalent grams (163,000 oz.) of other metals in 2021.

Cat noted Boddington’s conversion to AHS was one of the fastest in the industry, spanning approximately seven months to roll out all 36 trucks equipped with Command. In all, Newmont invested $150 million in its autonomous haulage project with goals to improve mine safety and productivity, while extending the life of the mine.

The milestone was met quickly, as the first 231-tonne (256-ton) Cat 793F was converted to autonomous operation at the site in March 2021. A total of seven trucks from Newmont’s existing fleet were retrofitted with Command for hauling, while 29 trucks were new models.

In October 2021, the last of the 36 autonomous trucks were in operation at the mine. The mine reached the 100 million tonnes (110 million tons) of material autonomously hauled benchmark by the end of October 2022.

“The time period between rollout of the mine’s first autonomous 793F truck to full conversion of the mine’s autonomous fleet to achieving 100 million metric tons autonomously hauled was incredibly short,” Cat technology site manager Kosie Bolton said. “This is a true testament of the great teamwork between Boddington’s talented and dedicated workforce, Cat dealer WesTrac and Caterpillar. The supporting AHS projects will help to improve data understanding and drive operational excellence through data utilization.”

Boddington has 200 connected assets, including its autonomous trucks equipped with MineStar Terrain, and site autonomous vehicles and trucks. An entirely new AHS intelligence office, where all the autonomous trucks and connected assets can be viewed and collected data analyzed, was also completed and dedicated in October 2022 that featured tiered seating and screens for collaborative working in one space.

“Having everyone together in the new office allows us to post issues on the screens in front of all workers to quickly address them together,” said James Earl, who serves as AHS control room superintendent for the Newmont Boddington Mine.

“We are extremely proud to deliver the gold industry’s first autonomous haul truck fleet at Boddington. This will help extend the mine’s life, reduce safety risks and lower costs. The project’s record implementation is just another example of Newmont’s trademark ability to set and achieve ambitious goals.”

Caterpillar and Newmont first agreed in November 2021 to collaborate on a number of mining technology initiatives to provide industry leading outcomes for safety, productivity, sustainability and cost. 

Sources: Caterpillar and Newmont