BHP will adopt Caterpillar EVs for mining operations in 2023

Supply agreements between BHP, Caterpillar and parts supplier Finning will result in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) for mining operations in Chile

To provide its precious metals and potash supply, BHP, like any other mine, relies heavily on its machinery to carry out the bulk of the work. But, with a significant contribution to emissions figures, the mining must undergo change to deem it sustainable, and electrification is one of those changes.

According to McKinsey & Company, mining is currently responsible for around 4% to 7% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and while much of this can be attributed to coal mining operations, as well as a significant 28% from the supply chain, mining leaders are aware that their vehicles are not helping the cause. 

EV solutions will decarbonise the mining industry 

As one of the most common methods of decarbonisation today, swapping out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles for EVs is a major step for the industry. As the host of major mining operations, including the Escondida Mine in the Antofagasta region of Chile, BHP will now replace its conventional heavy-duty trucks with electric models as part of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.

The Caterpillar 798 AC is the model of choice and is expected to grace the company’s fleet in Chile in the second half of 2023. Working with Caterpillar and Finning International, the parts and servicing provider for the business, BHP will take the first delivery of trucks at that time with more to follow over the next 10 years to carry out a complete overhaul of its global 160-truck fleet. 

“The Caterpillar team is excited to support the successful deployment of machines and technology that will facilitate a step-function improvement in BHP’s operational excellence,” says Denise Johnson, Group President Resource Industries, Caterpillar Inc. 

“We applaud BHP as this mine site transition accelerates the delivery of their aggressive sustainability targets.”

As the sustainability strategy is put into action across the organisation, the Escondida Mine will pave the way for further EV adoption across the business as BHP collaborates with both partners. James Whittaker, President of Escondida, BHP, says the agreement is a critical step that will shape the future of the mine. 

“It will allow us to generate significant efficiencies at the operational level, but it is also in line with some of the main challenges that drive us as a company: innovation for the future of mining, decarbonisation, and development of capabilities in Antofagasta’s community,” says Whittaker.

“We have great expectations regarding the benefits that will be generated in the short and long term for both the company and the region.”

Decarbonisation is part of BHP’s wider sustainability target

Electrification is one solution to achieve a goal—decarbonisation. But there are other factors involved across the industry that must be addressed to ensure true decarbonisation.

BHP’s sustainability strategy encompasses all of the targets you’d expect to see from a global organisation with a commercial footprint of scale. The company recognises the importance of its resources as it provides for the energy supply chain with copper a key component for renewable energy, nickel used in EVs, and iron ore and metallurgical used for steel infrastructure, which is instrumental in the energy transition.

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