Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation

Australian lithium developer ioneer and equipment giant Caterpillar have completed a joint automation study for the former's Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada, US, and have agreed to move the initiative forward.
Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation Ioneer moves forward with Rhyolite Ridge automation

Rhyolite Ridge project area

The automation study was part of an equipment deal for the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project struck in late 2020 between the companies.

They have now signed a memorandum of understanding to adopt Cat Command for hauling and Autonomous Haulage System, or AHS, technologies at Rhyolite Ridge.

Study results show the viability of AHS at the mine, and the proposed application of AHS could positively impact the overall cost structure of the operations, ioneer said.

"Key anticipated drivers include increased operating hours, reduced cycle times and improved cycle efficiency, and decreased operating costs in terms of maintenance, fuel, labour, and tires.  AHS should also lead to improve in-cycle productivity and overall utilization, reducing the number of trucks required," it added.

The operations are scheduled to start in 2023 with a fleet of Cat 785 Next Generation mining trucks equipped with Cat Command for hauling, and the fleet is scheduled to expand significantly in year four.

All support equipment will feature the latest MineStar technology utilizing high-precision GPS and real-time analytics to maximise efficiency and accuracy in material loading.

Formal agreements are expected to be completed in the next few months. 

Ioneer said Rhyolite Ridge will be the first greenfield operation in North America to utilize AHS and will mark the expansion of Command for hauling automation technology to the 140-tonne class Cat 785 Next Generation mining truck.