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BMA has announced a $100 million plan to introduce a 34-strong fleet of autonomous trucks at the Daunia coal mine in Central Queensland.

BMA asset president James Palmer said the move would result in 150 additional project roles for BMA people and contractors, on top of 56 new permanent roles on site.

“This announcement is a vote of confidence in Central Queensland,” Mr Palmer said.

“At least 10 regional and Indigenous businesses will be employed to support the roll-out, with contracts worth $35 million.”

The shift to Caterpillar driverless trucks is set to begin in February, with the roll-out expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

It comes on the back of BMA Goonyella Riverside mine’s shift to autonomous haulage operations, set to begin in September.

Mr Palmer said there would be no job losses as a result of the decision to make the switch at Daunia,  30km south-east of Moranbah.

“…Anyone who currently works with us, be it an employee or labour hire worker, will be given the opportunity to continue to do so,” Mr Palmer said.

The announcement will mean a boost for Hastings Deering Central Queensland operations, with an additional 30 jobs required to assist with the conversion of trucks and ancillary mining fleet into autonomous vehicles at Daunia.

“It’s exciting work to build on that allows us to grow and develop local talent to deliver technology solutions into the resources sector,” Hastings Deering chief executive officer Dean Mehmet said.

NB Industries will complete the light vehicle fleet conversion, and Radlink Communications will install wireless communication hardware across the mine.

Mr Palmer said the company had engaged with its Daunia workforce over the past 18 months on the possible roll-out of autonomous haulage.

To help prepare for Daunia’s autonomous future, it is estimated that more than 30,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

The Isaac Regional Council welcomed assurances there would be no job losses associated with automation of haulage at BMA’s Daunia Mine.

“Council has been absolutely firm that we want jobs staying in the Isaac Region as technological innovation occurs in the coal-mining industry,” Mayor Anne Baker said.

“We have received a firm commitment from BMA that no jobs will be lost from the region through this move to autonomous haulage at Daunia.

“That is vitally important to the Isaac Regional Council because we are committed to maintaining strong local communities across our region and communities are created by people, not machines.”

$100m shift to driverless future for Daunia haulage