Rio Tinto and BHP collaborate on trials of battery-electric haul trucks


Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

Rio Tinto and BHP collaborate on trials of battery-electric haul trucks

Rio Tinto has announced an industry-first collaboration with BHP on the testing of large battery-electric haul truck technology in the Pilbara, Western Australia, to accelerate the potential for the technology’s future deployment.

Rio Tinto says the two companies will work with manufacturers Caterpillar and Komatsu to conduct independent trials of their battery-electric haul trucks, including testing of battery, static and dynamic charging systems, to assess performance and productivity in the Pilbara environment.

As part of the collaboration, two Cat 793 haul trucks will be trialled from the second half of 2024, and two Komatsu 930 haul trucks tested from 2026, at mine sites in the Pilbara region.

Caterpillar and Komatsu will provide one truck each to both BHP and Rio Tinto for these trials. BHP will trial the Caterpillar trucks, while Rio Tinto will trial the Komatsu trucks. Outcomes of the trials will be shared between BHP and Rio Tinto.

These trials represent the first stage of battery-electric haul truck testing at BHP and Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations. Ongoing testing, development and refinement of truck and battery design is 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.

“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,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott. “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.”

“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 seek to test and learn how these new technologies will work in practice and integrate into our mines,” said BHP President Australia Geraldine Slattery.

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. The trucks included in the new trials are based on these prototypes.

Image caption: Komatsu battery-electric haul truck. Image credit: Komatsu.

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