May 23, 2016

Sustainable driving is good business in Weipa

Sustainable driving is good business in Weipa

Rio Tinto has modified the design of the rear tipper truck fleet at its Weipa bauxite mine to reduce costs and fuel usage by around 400,000 litres a year.

The mine’s rear tipper trucks are fuelled by diesel and are used during the ore development process prior to mining and for production.

Rio Tinto Weipa general manager, Weipa Operations, Gareth Manderson said “Understanding that diesel fuel is one of our largest operational expenses, the team looked at ways to reduce the amount of fuel our heavy equipment use.

“To better manage the speed and fuel consumption of our rear tipper fleet, operating techniques and engine fuel burn characteristics were analysed and modified leading to the installation of an ‘upper speed limiter’.

“Applying this new technology has enabled us to optimise engine speeds for designated vehicle speeds without affecting truck productivity. The project provides operational, cost, health and environmental benefits, including reduced noise exposure for operators and a decrease in fuel burn resulting in a saving of approximately 400,000 litres of fuel each year—equivalent to removing 270 cars off the road each year.”

The rear tipper case study is just one example of Rio Tinto Weipa’s employees working innovatively to deliver sustainable cost improvements in tough market conditions.

Rio Tinto Weipa recently released its 2015 Sustainable Development Report for the mine, showcasing a number of other case studies and records set last year.

The operation sustained its improved safety performance, delivering the safest year in Weipa’s history, and also managed to ship an additional million tonnes of bauxite than the year before.

“Operating against tough market conditions, we have been very deliberate in focussing on producing safe and competitive tonnes, which we know leads to safe performance, stronger production and an improved cost position for the operation,” Mr Manderson said.

Improved safety and production performance aren’t the only highlights in the report, with many Weipa employees again recognised and community partnerships celebrated.

“The ingenuity of our people and the support from stakeholders is critical. We are fortunate to enjoy good relationships with local Traditional Owners and look forward to further refining our focus on indigenous employment and development,” Mr Manderson said.

The operation’s indigenous employment figures remained steady with 24 per cent of the workforce represented by Indigenous Australians, 13 per cent local Aboriginal people, and a further improvement in retention and development into professional and leadership roles.

A copy of the Weipa Sustainable Development Report can be found online at www.riotinto.com