BHP Billiton today celebrated the official opening of its new Jimblebar iron ore mine 40 kilometres east of Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
BHP Billiton President Iron Ore Jimmy Wilson, was joined by the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon. Colin Barnett, and joint venture participants ITOCHU Corporation (ITOCHU) and Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui) to open the US$3.2 billion (BHP Billiton share) Jimblebar mine.
Jimblebar delivered first production in the quarter ending September 2013 and is expected to deliver phase one capacity of 35 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) by the end of the 2015 financial year. Together with the installation of four mobile crushers, this will increase total Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) supply chain capacity to in excess of 220 mtpa (100 per cent basis).
Longer term, a low cost option to expand Jimblebar to 55 mtpa and the broader debottlenecking of the supply chain is expected to underpin capital efficient growth in WAIO capacity to approximately 260 mtpa to 270 mtpa (100 per cent basis).
BHP Billiton Iron Ore President, Jimmy Wilson, said extensive planning and research went into designing Jimblebar’s mining operation, with productivity measures and technology central to the design plan.
“Mobile crib rooms and fuelling stations have been positioned closer to the mine pits so our trucks and equipment spend more time moving earth and less time travelling or parked out of action,” he said.
“Our pursuit of productivity gains and operational excellence is delivering significant value at Western Australia Iron Ore. The business is now well positioned to deliver high margin volume growth at a substantially lower cost.
“We are also pleased to announce we are extending our Jimblebar autonomous truck trial to the neighbouring Wheelarra operations using six Caterpillar 793-F trucks in the second trial.”
Mr Wilson acknowledged the positive relationships between employees, Indigenous land owners and joint venture participants ITOCHU and Mitsui that have been crucial to the success of the Western Australian business.
“The agreement we have with the traditional owners will build on our existing relationship and will ensure that the Nyiyaparli people can share in the benefits of the new mine.
“Over the past two years alone, we have invested over A$1.3 billion in the Western Australian community, including community projects, town servicing infrastructure, training opportunities and regional development activities and accommodation.”
Please see the News Release.
About the Autonomous Haulage Production Trial
A trial of autonomous trucks is currently underway at Jimblebar to test the technology used to safely and efficiently haul iron ore. Six autonomous Caterpillar 793F trucks are being used in the trial, which commenced on 1 August 2013.
From mid-2014, the trial of autonomous trucks will be expanded to include a second circuit at Jimblebar. An additional six trucks will operate at the neighbouring Wheelarra 4 pits and will enable dumping of ore by autonomous trucks into the newly tied-in Wheelarra crusher.
BHP Billiton is committed to pursuing mature and proven technology options that demonstrate value to the business. The use of autonomous haul trucks has the potential to introduce safety benefits by removing people from potentially hazardous environments; increasing the predictability and productivity of haulage operations, providing new employment and training opportunities for our people and reducing the labour intensity of future mining operations.
The purpose of the trial is to define and test the roles, processes and technology required to safely operate autonomous trucks in a production environment, and to understand the production benefits and safety implications of using the trucks. Depending on the success of the trial, the benefits of expanding the use of autonomous haul trucks may be investigated.