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The much heralded driverless AutoHaul Iron Ore Trains have made their first delivery since Rio Tinto was approved for autonomous delivery back in May at a cost of $940 million. The 280 km trip carrying 28,000 metric tons was completed Tuesday.

rio tinto auto haul train

$RIO plans that by year's end almost all of Rio’s 200 locomotives used to transport the ore through Western Australia's Pilbara region wil be autonomous.  Rio  notes that the productivity improvements are helping protect margins and hedge against the volatility of iron ore prices.

Ivan Vella, managing director for rail, port and core services at Rio’s iron ore unit, in a phone interview with Reuters said;

“Every train driver drives a bit differently, it’s very complex and they all have different levels of performance,.....drives every train autonomously as well as -- or better than -- our very best driver,” he said.

Rio is the first mega miner to install an autonomous rail system. The increased speed and efficiency save one hour in each 20-hour trip. The trip are also safer without driver error risks and more efficent without the need to change drivers at the end of their shift. 

Iron ore Mining Costs

Vela added “That’s what’s unique, we have a level of flexibility that’s one of a kind in our business, If we see a bit of a peak in pricing, we can certainly push our business harder to move more product.” 

In a volatile environment, not just in pricing, but competitiveness and harsh weather safe driverless transportation adds a new advantage to the miner.

Source: Bloomberg; TradersCommunity

From a Sunburnt Country ....

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