BHP and Rio Tinto collaborate on battery-electric haul truck trials in Pilbara

The outcomes of the trials will be shared between BHP and Rio Tinto, aiding both in optimising their future deployment strategies for battery-electric haul truck fleets.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 27 May 2024 Views icon1679 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
BHP and Rio Tinto collaborate on battery-electric haul truck trials in Pilbara

In an industry first, BHP and Rio Tinto have announced a collaborative effort to test large battery-electric haul truck technology in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. This initiative aims to accelerate the deployment of battery-electric haul trucks, advancing their shared goal of achieving net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Partnering with leading manufacturers Caterpillar and Komatsu, the trials will involve independent testing of their battery-electric haul trucks, including assessments of battery performance and static and dynamic charging systems under Pilbara conditions. Two CAT 793 haul trucks will be trialed from the second half of 2024, and two Komatsu 930 haul trucks will be tested from 2026 at mine sites in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Caterpillar and Komatsu will each provide one truck to both BHP and Rio Tinto for these trials. BHP will trial the Caterpillar trucks, while Rio Tinto will trial the Komatsu trucks. The outcomes of the trials will be shared between BHP and Rio Tinto.

The collaboration highlights the companies' dedication to technological innovation and environmental sustainability. The outcomes of the trials will be shared between BHP and Rio Tinto, aiding both in optimising their future deployment strategies for battery-electric haul truck fleets. Ongoing testing, development, and refinement of truck and battery design are anticipated with each manufacturer. This will inform the approach for testing a larger number of haul trucks and the potential deployment of battery-electric haul truck fleets into each company’s operations.

Geraldine Slattery, BHP President Australia, stated “Operational decarbonisation relies on breakthroughs in technology and partnerships like this will help drive our industry forward. We are thrilled to work with Rio Tinto, Caterpillar, and Komatsu on these trials. Replacing diesel as a fuel source requires us to develop a whole new operational ecosystem to surround the fleet. We need to address the way we plan our mines, operate our haulage networks, and consider the additional safety and operational considerations that these changes will bring. This is why trials are so critical to our success as we test and learn how these new technologies could work and integrate into our mines. We’ve already seen a step-change reduction in Scope 1 and 2 operational greenhouse gas emissions through switching some of our supply to renewable electricity, and we are looking to build on that progress through development of battery-electric technology to reduce diesel usage across our operations.”

Simon Trott, Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, remarked “This collaboration brings together two leading global miners with two of the world’s biggest manufacturers of haul trucks to work on solving the critical challenge of zero-emissions haulage. “There is no clear path to net zero without zero-emissions haulage, so it’s important that we work together to get there as quickly and efficiently as we can. Testing two types of battery-electric haul trucks in Pilbara conditions will provide better data, and by combining our efforts with BHP we will accelerate learning. “As we work to repower our Pilbara operations with renewable energy, collaborations like this move us closer to solving the shared challenge of decarbonising our operations and meeting our net zero commitments.”

This initiative underscores BHP’s and Rio Tinto’s commitment to sustainability and sets a precedent for industry-wide collaboration in addressing climate change. The trials are a pivotal step towards the broader adoption of battery-electric technology in mining operations, aiming to significantly reduce diesel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

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