Rio Tinto Opens Technologically Advanced Gudai-Darri Iron Ore Mine

Pilbara Traditional Owners, the Banjima People & Western Australia’s Minister for Mines& Petroleum Energy Mr Bill Johnston
Rio Tinto Gudai Darri Iron Ore
Rio Tinto Gudai Darri Iron Ore Image Source – Rio Tinto

Pilbara Traditional Owners, the Banjima People & Western Australia’s Minister for Mines& Petroleum Energy Mr Bill Johnston joined Rio Tinto employees as well as valued partners and suppliers to celebrate the official opening of Gudai-Darri, Rio Tinto’s most technologically advanced mine. The mine’s footprint also extends to Yinjibarndi country where a section of the new 166-kilometre rail line was constructed.

Since development commenced in April 2019, more than 14 million work hours have culminated in the delivery of Rio Tinto’s 17th and most technologically advanced iron ore mine in the Pilbara. Development of the mine supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction and design phase with the operation requiring around 600 permanent roles.

To optimise mine safety and drive productivity, Gudai-Darri features an unprecedented deployment of technology, much of it industry-leading. This includes the use of robotics for the ore sampling laboratory as well as for distribution of parts in the new workshop.

From autonomous trucks, trains and drills, standard across many Rio Tinto mines in the Pilbara, to a full digital replica of the processing plant which allows teams to monitor and respond to data collected from the plant. The same digital asset data is used to provide a feature rich, interactive 3D environment for virtual reality training. These autonomous assets are monitored remotely from Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre 1,500 kilometers away in Perth.

With an expected life of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes, Gudai-Darri will underpin future production of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara Blend product. It’s expected to increase iron ore production volumes and improve product mix from the Pilbara from the second half of this year. The mine is expected to reach capacity in 2023.

Gudai-Darri has 23 CAT 793F autonomous haul trucks and three CAT MD6310 autonomous drills. The trucks implement real-time ore tracking using sensors to provide live dig face progression, while data-informed modelling from the drills helps to build more accurate assessments of existing ground conditions and improve safety. In collaboration with Caterpillar, Rio Tinto is advancing the development of zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks. Once development is complete, it is anticipated the world’s first operational deployment of Caterpillar 793 zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks will be at Gudai-Darri.

The new vehicles, developed in partnership with Caterpillar, are primarily used for dust suppression on site, enhancing productivity by enabling mine operations to digitally track water consumption and reduce waste. The vehicle’s intelligent on-board system detects dry and dusty conditions on site, triggering the application of water to roads to keep them in good condition.

Fully operational in June 2019, AutoHaul was the world’s first fully autonomous long distance, heavy-haul rail network. The autonomous train is monitored remotely by operators from our Operations Centre in Perth more than 1,500 kilometres away.

Traditionally reclaimer maintenance requires a prolonged shutdown while several components are removed. This patented world first will enable the entire bucket wheel module to be changed out for maintenance, improving safety and efficiency

The Gudai-Darri laboratory is fully automated and integrated with our mine. Production samples (both lump and fines) enter the lab via a conveyer from the sample station and will be transferred to the automated production cell by a robot. This facility will provide excellent visibility of the ore grade being

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