Employer retrains hundreds of workers for mine automation

January 26, 2022 Richard Szabo

A multinational resources company and CAT equipment supplier are quickly instructing employees how to work with automated machinery.

The WesTrac Technology Training Centre recently trained more than 260 Rio Tinto operators in cutting-edge automated haulage systems technology, safety fundamentals and maintenance protocol. The centre based in South West Australia’s Collie region expects to retrain a further 100 workers before the end of 2022.

WesTrac revealed the Western Australian location is ideal because the Golden State is home to about 90 per cent of the world’s Caterpillar driverless fleet.

“They may have worked on a mine site for five or 10 years but now they are going to be working with autonomous equipment, so we can get them up to speed for their first day on-site,” WesTrac chief executive officer Jarvas Croome told Prime Creative Media.

“This is a perfect opportunity to train people before they get to the site and we can also train a greater volume of operators.”

Rio, which hopes to make its Gudai-Darri (Koodaideri) Iron Ore Mine the world’s most technologically advanced, plans to regularly send new recruits and existing team members from the operation to the WesTrac centre.

“The [Gudai-Darri] site will be autonomous in regard to our haulage fleet, so we are really focused on our haul trucks,” Rio Tinto human resources vice president Scott Browne said according to the news outlet.

“We recently announced with Caterpillar the first autonomous water cart and we have also got our autonomous drill system … [and] the aim is about how we can create the safest environment and, obviously, a highly productive environment – and see where autonomy fits within that.”

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