Caterpillar Hungry for Collaboration
In keeping with the latest trend of OEM/Miner collaborations to deliver zero-emission technology, Caterpillar have recently announced two new partnerships with BHP and Nouveau Monde Graphite to develop sustainable mining machinery for the future.
Their latest venture with BHP, to develop and deploy zero-emissions battery powered mining trucks at BHP sites, was announced last month. This milestone is the result of over 12 months of close collaboration between BHP and Caterpillar in analysing energy demands and the options to apply this new technology on mine sites.
“The collaboration will help shape the processes, technology, and infrastructure that will be required to support zero-emissions machines and the mine sites of the future,” the firms said in a media statement.
BHP stated: “To support progress towards BHP’s long-term goal of achieving net zero operational GHG emissions by 2050, BHP will have early access to zero-emissions equipment developed by Caterpillar and hands-on learning opportunities to ensure successful deployment at BHP sites. The collaboration will help shape the processes, technology and infrastructure that will be required to support zero-emissions machines and the mine sites of the future.”
BHP has a lot of skin in the game, with an annual global carbon footprint higher than that of its home country Australia. In its Climate Change Report 2020, BHP announced that it plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations by almost a third by 2030, with the final goal of achieving net-zero operational GHG emissions by 2050. Given mining trucks are the lifeblood of mine sites around the world, making them more sustainable is a key component in achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goals across the industry.
A critical element of the collaboration will be to extend the parties’ efforts to support a more inclusive mining industry. Over the coming year, BHP will provide frontline operator and maintainer input into the Caterpillar design process to support the development of machines that can be operated and serviced by a broader range of the workforce.
“The opportunity for our teams to input into the design process also gives us confidence that the trucks will be safer and easier to operate for a workforce that’s more diverse than ever,” BHP’s chief commercial officer, Vandita Pant, said in the press brief. “We know that partnering with others will help accelerate the transition to a low carbon future.”
Like its collaboration with BHP, Caterpillar has also announced a new partnership with Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) to help deliver their goal of fully powering their Matawinie graphite mine with zero-emission machines by 2028. Caterpillar will be the exclusive equipment, technology and services provider – developing, testing and producing Cat® “zero-emission machines” for the project in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Québec, Canada.
This ambitious project to provide an all-electric mining fleet spans Caterpillar’s entire enterprise, requiring a holistic approach involving machines, solutions, and technologies.
In similar fashion to the BHP project, Caterpillar will engage with the NMG team to incorporate front line input throughout the development and on-site testing prior to commercial production. RI Group President Denise Johnson said, “The collaboration between Caterpillar and Nouveau Monde marks an important milestone in the mining industry. Through integrated technology, machines and services, the entire Caterpillar team is proud to support Nouveau Monde as they work towards constructing and establishing their first zero-emission mine.”
The world is on the cusp of an energy transition to address climate change, and as we enter this uncharted territory, we will begin to see more collaborations designed to speed our progress towards the industry’s 2050 target. Providing an all-electric fleet for a zero-emission mine is a significant step in achieving this and promises to bring bigger and better machines, designed in part, by front line operators from around the world.
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