BHP Billiton to go for robotic trucks in Pilbara mines

Mining giant BHP Billiton will introduce a fleet of robotic trucks at its newest mine in Australia's Pilbara region, the heart of the country's iron ore industry.

The move comes after rival miner Rio Tinto deployed driverless haulage trucks and other remote control systems at its mines.

Marcus Randolph, BHP's, head of operations for iron ore and coal, told The Australian,BHP wanted to raise productivity through the cost improvements these technologies  offered.

With the technology it would be possible to operate a fleet of 12 to 15 Caterpillar trucks from a control room on the site or even the comfort of a city office hundreds of kilometres away. Such a fleet would be in operation at the miner's Jimblebar mine from late 2013.

The centre of the company's remote operations is located in Perth, west Australia. In time, BHP would set up similar facilities for its Queensland coal mines as also its Escondida copper mine in Chile.

BHP is also investing in another technology that could render dump truck irrelevant  and enable mines to do without trucks.