Autonomous Trucks Hit 100 Mn Tonne Mark at Vale’s Brucutu Mine
Autonomous off-road trucks, which travel without an operator in the cabin, completed 100 million tonnes of material being moved at the Brucutu mine in June 2021, which produces iron ore in São Gonçalo do Rio Below (Minas Gerais, Brazil). Since the beginning of the project's implementation in 2016, there have been no accidents caused by autonomous trucks, carbon emissions have been reduced due to lower fuel consumption and the mine's productivity has increased.
With a capacity to transport 240 tonnes, the trucks are controlled by computer systems, GPS, radar and artificial intelligence, covering the route between the mining front and the unloading area. The result of six years of research and testing, autonomous vehicles began to be used in 2016 in test mode. In 2019, all 13 trucks circulating in Brucutu were already using the new technology, making it the first mine in Brazil with 100% autonomous operation.
Over the last five years, it has been proven that the fuel consumption of autonomous trucks is 11% lower than that of crewed trucks, resulting in a reduction of 4,300 tons of CO2 per year in the atmosphere. The maximum speed of the trucks, which was 40 km/h, reached 60 km/h. Hourly productivity, measured by the amount of iron ore transported per hour, increased by 11% - five percentage points more than expected.
The autonomous operation also favors the maintenance of equipment. Tires, for example, had a 35% increase in their useful life – ten percentage points more than expected. In addition to saving the company, this number generates less waste disposal.