BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will spend about $455mn (¥50bn) on autonomous haul trucks and communications data analysis to reduce production costs and carbon dioxide emissions at the joint venture’s (JV’s) mines, as well as improve efficiency. 

 

BMA, a 50-50 joint venture between Anglo-Australian mining BHP Group and Japan’s trading line, Mitsubishi, is one of Australia’s largest coal producers and generates around 70mn mt of coal per year for steelmaking. The company will use about 90 autonomous dump trucks in one of seven of its mines in eastern Australia, according to media reports. 

 

The company plans to expand the fleet to around 350 such trucks by 2022. The trucks will be built by several companies, including US manufacturer Caterpillar and Japanese producer, Komatsu. 

 

The conventional dump trucks being used at present will be retrofitted with an artificial intelligence (AI) system to enable remote control and reduce costs by up to 15pc. 

 

BMA also plans to gather data on the trucks, weather, production, and shipments, for AI-based analysis that could save costs by predicting maintenance and project charges. 

 

Mitsubishi, co-owner of BMA provided ¥246.9bn yen to its net profit in fiscal year 2018, producing around 40pc of the company’s combined income. Profits fell to ¥76.2bn yen in the April to September half of fiscal year 2019 amid global economic decline. 

 

The company indicated that increased automation could protect the mining company’s income from such swings in market prices and benefit the environment through improved efficiency and less carbon dioxide emissions. BHP expects its 2022 greenhouse gas emissions to be at 2017 levels or less, according to the report.

 

US$1 = 108.89 Japanese Yen (as on Jan 27, 2020).

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