Mining giant Rio Tinto plans to operate the world's first fully automated long-distance heavy haul rail system by 2015 as part of its $7.2 billion Mines of the Future program.

Rio will spend $518 million on the development of the AutoHaul system – a gargantuan haulage automation project which will consist of 1,500 kilometres of track, 10,000 wagons and individuals trains which will run 2.3 kilometres long. An operations centre located in Perth will be responsible for remote management of…