BHP and Rio Tinto partner for battery-electric haul truck technology

BHP (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) have partnered to test large battery-electric haul truck technology in WA’s Pilbara region.

The companies will work with manufacturers Caterpillar and Komatsu to conduct independent trials of the battery-electric haul truck, including testing of battery, static and dynamic charging systems to assess performance and productivity in the Pilbara.

The collaboration reflects BHP’s, Rio’s, Caterpillar’s and Komatsu’s commitments made to support Rio Tinto’s and BHP’s shared ambition of net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Two Cat 793 haul trucks will be trialled from the second half of 2024, while two Komatsu 930 haul trucks will be tested from 2026 at mine sites across the Pilbara.

Caterpillar and Komatsu will each provide one truck each to both BHP and Rio for the trials with BHP to trial the Caterpillar trucks and Rio to trial to Komatsu trucks.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Simon Trott commented on the partnership.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

BHP president Australia Geraldine Slattery echoed Mr Trott’s comments.

“Operational decarbonisation relies on breakthroughs in technology and partnerships like this will help drive our industry forward,” she said.

“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.”

These trials represent the first stage of battery-electric haul truck testing at BHP’s and Rio’s Pilbara operations.

Ongoing testing, development and refinement of truck and battery design is anticipated with each manufacturer. This will provide information on the approach for testing a larger number of haul trucks and the potential deployment of battery-electric haul truck fleets into each operation.