BHP Billiton opens Perth remote control centre

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BHP Billiton opens Perth remote control centre

Real-time visibility across iron ore operations.

BHP Billiton is hoping real-time visibility across its Pilbara operations will help it grow iron ore production to 220 million tonnes a year.

The firm yesterday officially opened its Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC) in Perth, although the facility has been operating for about six months, according to a report by news wire AAP.

The facility is loaded with technology including a mine fleet management system, train control and fixed plant control systems for mine and port operations, and CCTV and radio systems to communicate with remote sites.

It is also kitted out with what BHP Billiton is calling an "innovative Production Visibility Tool [that] gives an overview of the entire Western Australian Iron Ore network at a glance".

"This is a milestone in technology and innovation for Iron Ore and centralises control of our Pilbara-based mine, fixed plant, train and port operations in one location," BHP Billiton's Iron Ore president Jimmy Wilson said.

"For the first time we can see our total supply chain, in real-time and in one place, enabling us to proactively make the right decisions for the whole business."

It is expected the IROC will be used to remotely control a trial deployment of driverless trucks at the company's Jimblebar iron ore mine in Western Australia.

The facility is staffed by between 60 and 70 people, and is open 24x7x365, according to the AAP report.

Rival Rio Tinto has had a remote operations centre set up in Perth for some time, which it operates as part of its Mine of the Future programme, which includes autonomous drills, trucks and — eventually — trains.

Rio Tinto is already seeing production gains as a result of its investments in remote control technology and automation.

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