Imperial Oil’s Kearl achieves full autonomy of 81 strong Cat 797 fleet

In its recently announced third quarter 2023 results, Imperial Oil revealed that it has now completed its autonomous haulage program with all 81 of its Caterpillar 363 t class 797F heavy haul trucks at its Kearl oil sands mine in Alberta now fully converted to autonomous operation.

CEO Brad Corson stated: “With this, we now operate the largest autonomous fleet in our industry and one of the largest autonomous mining fleets in the world, which enables us to capture improvements in truck productivity, further enhance our safe operating environment, and also reduce operating costs. I’m very proud of what we have achieved to date with this program, and we continue to look at other potential opportunities to expand our autonomous concept to other areas of our mine fleet. This program reflects our commitment to safety, technology and innovation and becoming the lowest cost operator.”

When Imperial Oil made the decision to implement autonomous haulage at its Kearl operation in the oil sands, the company pulled together a team of experts from Imperial, Finning and Caterpillar to apply the technology.

Finning has previously pointed out that Kearl was the first application of Cat MineStar Command for hauling in the oil sands, in a remote northern location with unpredictable weather and ground conditions. And it was the first time Command for hauling was used on a Cat 797F.

”We had to leverage the expertise of Caterpillar and Finning and Imperial Oil and we had to come together as one team, I think that’s why we are successful,” says Mansoor Hussain, Autonomous Project Manager for Imperial Oil. “You can assemble the world’s smartest people and they won’t be able to accomplish what we have if they’re not working together as one team. We’ve broken down the barriers between the different companies. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Imperial person, a Caterpillar person or a Finning person, you have the right to speak up, you have the right to call out things that aren’t safe, you have the right to be emboldened to come up with new ideas, new ways of doing things and I think that’s what made us successful, that one team approach.

Read the full article in International Mining online magazine.