December 27, 2018 / 9:49 PM / 9 months ago

Rio Tinto says no job cuts in 2019 due to driverless train project

The Rio Tinto mining company's logo is photographed at their annual general meeting in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

(Reuters) - Australian mining company Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) said on Friday it does not expect to cut jobs in 2019 even though it has deployed automated heavy-haul trains to cut costs.

The $940 million rail project, AutoHaul, is focused on driverless train movement to transport ore to the company’s port operations and has been in development since 2012.

“Early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks,” Ivan Vella, Rio Tinto’s iron ore managing director Rail, Port & Core Services, said.

Rio Tinto operates about 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 km of track in Pilbara to transport ore from 16 mines to four port terminals.

In 2017, Rio Tinto’s iron ore chief Chris Salisbury had said the company would look to develop an “intelligent” iron ore mine at a cost of $2.2 billion by fully incorporating technologies such as robotics and driverless trains and trucks on a single site.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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