Rio Tinto chief executive Australia and Iron Ore Sam Walsh said the company plans to deploy 150 driverless trucks and part of its AutoHaul programme.

The move will make the miner the first to launch automated long-distance heavy-haul rail network in the world.

Rio Tinto intends to launch the first driverless train in 2014 and the AutoHaul automated train programme will be complete by 2015.

The AutoHaul automated train programme is part of the miner’s Mine of the Future proposal which also includes driverless trucks and autonomous drills.

Currently, Rio Tinto runs 41 trains from mines to ports on its 1,500km rail network which includes 148 locomotives and 9,400 iron ore cars.

Automating train operations will help Rio Tinto expand Pilbara’s production capacity without making additional investment in increasing its train fleet.

Rollout of Rio Tinto’s AutoHaul and the overall expansion of rail operations require approval from state government and other agencies