Vale has started using six new autonomous haul trucks at its Carajás iron ore complex, which is said to be the world’s largest iron ore mine, located in the state of Pará, Brazil.

The company intends to deploy ten autonomous vehicles at the site by the end of this year.

Vale said that the launch of new trucks is part of its efforts to increase employee safety, and make the operation environmentally sustainable.

The new autonomous haul trucks are capable of carrying 320 metric tonnes at a go, and were being tested in an isolated area in Carajás site from 2019.

Last week, the company has started the final testing phase of the autonomous trucks at the N4E mine and now they were officially brought into operations.

The implementation includes human resources training plan for employees who work with new digital technologies, as the trucks does not require operator in the cabin.

Vale autonomous programme manager Pedro Bemfica said: “The implementation of autonomous workers in the operation is being carried out with the concern of keeping people at the center of decisions.

“The introduction of digital technology drives the evolution of employees’ professional skills and makes them more prepared for the industry’s digital transformation trend.”

The autonomous vehicles are designed to be controlled by computer systems, GPS, radar and artificial intelligence, to cover the route between the mining front and the unloading area.

They have safety system sensors, capable of detecting large rocks and other trucks, along with human beings in the vicinity of the road.

In the event of detection of any risks, the vehicle stops operation until the path is cleared, eliminating risky situations, such as tipping and collision.

Vale said that autonomous operation will contribute to significant environmental benefits, through enhanced performance, increased average speed, and reduced fuel consumption.

Also, the move is anticipated to increase the life of the equipment, reduce the waste generation, and increase the life span of tires, according to market data.

Vale Northern Corridor director Antônio Padovezi said: “The introduction of autonomous trucks in Carajás is another step by Vale towards its ambition to become a reference in safety in mining and towards the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 33% until 2030.

“Technology reduces the exposure of employees to the risks inherent to the activity and also brings environmental benefits, reinforcing our new pact with society.”