Autonomous truck, Gudai-Darri, Pilbara

Look inside a mine of the future

Our most intelligent mine yet is pioneering new mining technologies


Last updated: 12 August 2022

Nestled in the heart of the remote Pilbara region in Western Australia, Gudai-Darri looks a lot like any other mine from a distance.

But at our most technologically advanced mine, we’re doing things differently.

Operating a remote site – remotely

As a large haul truck pulls up for the day, you might expect to see a weary driver climb out of the cab.

But at Gudai-Darri, our fleet doesn’t retire for the day. They're running 24/7, without a single driver in sight. And that’s because the entire truck fleet is being directed by a controller sitting almost 1,500 kilometres away, overseeing trucks on site from the relative safety and comfort of a control room in Perth.

Seated next to them, another controller might be remotely operating one of the autonomous drills somewhere else on the site, or our autonomous AutoHaulTM rail network, or one of the world’s first autonomous water carts – developed through a successful collaboration with leading equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, and that use on-board artificial intelligence to monitor dust levels and automatically spray water when conditions require it.

And we’re partnering with global leaders in technology to ensure Gudai-Darri remains at the pioneering edge of mining well into the future. We’re working with Caterpillar to develop a new fleet of autonomous, zero-emissions haul trucks, and Gudai-Darri could be the first mine in the world to use them.

Automation is just one way we’re working smarter to keep our team safer, more connected and more productive at Gudai-Darri.

We’re also trialling an automated fuelling unit that fuels haul trucks using a vision sensing and direction system to locate the position of the truck’s fuel tank and connect it to the fuel nozzle.

Our robotic laboratory – which includes a sampling station that’s the first of its kind in the Pilbara – is processing ore samples faster and to a higher standard of quality.

And in our warehouse, automatic guided vehicles take the place of forklifts and drivers, using laser scanners and automatic stop functions to reduce manual handling and improve safety while picking and distributing goods.

Using digital environments for real-world efficiencies

Robots, lasers and remote-controlled trucks may sound like the stuff of science fiction.

But they're not the only futuristic technologies we're pioneering at Gudai-Darri. Our teams are also using a “digital asset” – a digital replica of the site that combines data from actual processing plants with historical design information to improve the way the plants are run.

By using these 3D models, teams can understand the site’s layout and specifications long before they need to enter those areas and perform work.

Another major challenge on remote sites is keeping everyone connected – both on and off site – and able to access the information they need to do their jobs well.

Every member of the team is equipped with a tablet, making the site paperless, and providing greater field mobility with access data and documents at the touch of a button.

  • Gudai-Darri
    Automated water carts
    Automated water carts at Gudai-Darri are operated from 1,500 km away in a control centre in Perth, and have a 160,000-litre tank, a 33% increase on our previous largest water carts. 
  • Gudai-Darri
    Paperless site
    Gudai-Darri’s private wireless data network improves site safety by giving our people access to relevant and current information while in the field. 
  • Gudai-Darri solar farm, Pilbara
    Powering the Pilbara with renewables
    A new 34 MW solar plant at Gudai-Darri, together with the new battery electric storage system at Tom Price, is set to reduce our annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 90,000 tonnes – the same amount produced by 6,000 homes in Australia every year.
  • Gudai-Darri site
    Rotable reclaimer bucket system
    Traditionally, reclaimer maintenance requires a piece-by-piece removal of components while the machine is out of service, resulting in shutdowns that are complex and high risk for our people. The patent-pending, rotable bucket system allows the entire bucket wheel module to be changed out for maintenance, improving safety and reducing scheduled loss. 
  • Gudai-Darri
    A mine of the future
    Located around 110 kilometres north-west of Newman in Western Australia, Gudai-Darri is a remote mine site nestled in the heart of the beautiful Pilbara region.
  • Gudai-Darri
    Remote-controlled haul trucks
    Gudai-Darri’s fleet of autonomous haul trucks allow us to operate equipment and vehicles remotely from Western Australia’s capital in Perth, improving safety and efficiency.
  • Gudai-Darri
    Building our iron ore capacity
    Gudai-Darri achieved first ore in 2022, and will reach full capacity in 2023. Our process plant has an annual average capacity of 43Mtpa of iron ore.

Reclaiming safety and crushing efficiency targets with clever tech

Using robots and automation helps cut down the risk to our people, but there are plenty of jobs that we still need people to do on-site – and one of those is maintenance, which can be a risky process thanks to the sheer size and complexity of the machinery we use.

To maintain a reclaimer, for example, we’d traditionally need to shut down and remove components of the machine one at a time, which is risky, time-sensitive work for our teams.

At Gudai-Darri, we’re solving this with a patent-pending, reclaimer bucketwheel design and system, which allows our teams to change out the entire bucketwheel for maintenance, improving efficiency and safety.