SYDNEY — Miner Rio Tinto will use driverless trains to deliver its iron ore to ports in Western Australia in what it said will be the world’s first automated, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network.
Rio said a US$518 million investment would see the launch of the first driverless train in the vast and mineral-rich Pilbara region in 2014 with the full project scheduled for completion a year later.“Expanding Pilbara iron ore production is a high-return and low-risk investment for Rio Tinto that will enhance shareholder value,” said Rio’s chief executive for Australia and iron ore, Sam Walsh.
“Automation will help us meet our expansion targets in a safe, more efficient and cost-effective way.”
The Anglo-Australian mining giant, which is facing sustained demand from Asia for raw materials, said automation would improve efficiency and allow the company to address the significant skills shortage facing the industry.
But the announcement has raised fears that the 500 workers Rio employs on its Pilbara trains will be axed, with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Workers’ Union describing the skills shortage line as propaganda.
“This is all about profitability at the expense of workers and workers’ jobs,” the union’s Gary Wood told the ABC.Read it at Raw Story
Australian firm plans network of driverless freight trains
by Agence France-Presse