Rio Tinto and BHP Collaborate on Battery-Electric Truck Trials

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In an industry first, Rio Tinto and BHP are collaborating on testing large battery-electric haul trucks in the Pilbara, Western Australia. This initiative aims to accelerate the deployment of battery-electric technology in mining operations.

Key Highlights:

  • Collaboration between Rio Tinto, BHP, Caterpillar, and Komatsu to test battery-electric haul trucks.
  • Independent trials of battery, static, and dynamic charging systems.
  • Commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • Trial periods: Cat 793 trucks in 2024 and Komatsu 930 trucks in 2026.
  • Shared outcomes between BHP and Rio Tinto.
  • Ongoing development of truck and battery designs for potential fleet deployment.

Rio Tinto and BHP will work with manufacturers Caterpillar and Komatsu to conduct independent trials of their battery-electric haul trucks. This includes testing battery systems, as well as static and dynamic charging systems, to evaluate performance and productivity in the Pilbara environment.

This collaboration reflects the individual commitments made by BHP, Rio Tinto, Komatsu, and Caterpillar to support the ambition of net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of the initiative, two Cat 793 haul trucks will be trialed starting in 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.

Rio Tinto and BHP Collaborate on Battery-Electric Truck Trials

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. Outcomes from these trials will be shared between the two companies, marking the first stage of battery-electric haul truck testing at their Pilbara operations.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott stated: “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. 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.”

BHP President Australia Geraldine Slattery commented: “Operational decarbonization relies on breakthroughs in technology and partnerships like this will help drive our industry forward. Replacing diesel as a fuel source requires us to develop a whole new operational ecosystem to surround the fleet. This is why trials are so critical to our success as we seek to test and learn how these new technologies will work in practice and integrate into our mines.”

In 2021, Rio Tinto and BHP worked with both Caterpillar and Komatsu to support the development and validation of their prototype battery-electric haul trucks. These trials are based on those prototypes.

Carbon emissions from diesel consumption in mining equipment and rail fleets accounted for 12% of Rio Tinto’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions in 2023. For BHP, diesel combustion accounted for around 40% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions in FY2020.

By collaborating on these trials, Rio Tinto and BHP aim to advance their operational decarbonization efforts, paving the way for future deployment of battery-electric haul truck fleets in their operations.

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