BHP, Rio, Vale launch contest to cut haul truck emissions

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An autonomous vehicle drives along a road as it collects iron ore at Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) mine in the Pilbara region, located south-east of the coastal town of Port Hedland in Western Australia, November 29, 2018. Picture t

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The world’s top three iron ore miners on Thursday launched a competition to crowdsource efficient ways to deliver power to battery-electric haulage truck fleets as they strive to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The “Charge on Innovation Challenge”, run by BHP Group, Rio Tinto (LON:) and Vale S.A. with Australian mining services body Austmine, is looking for fast-charging concepts that would deliver around 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity to truck fleets at remote mine sites.

The mining industry is looking to move its diesel powered truck fleets to electric to cut emissions. But one of the issues is that current stationary charging systems require lots of time to charge large trucks, which would impact productivity, they said in a joint statement.

Diesel is a major contributor to miners’ carbon emissions.

“We expect the Challenge will stimulate innovative ideas, some of which could be immediately applied to existing diesel-electric equipment and help fast-track implementation of longer-term solutions,” said President of BHP Minerals Australia Edgar Basto.

Participants would need to come up with a solution that would charge and propel the 220 tonne trucks within the truck’s haul cycle which consists of load, travel, dump, return and queue.

Expressions of interest will be open from May 18, and short listed candidates are expected to pitch their concepts later during this calendar year.

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The group is also inviting other miners to join the competition as “patrons” which would allow them to influence the commercialisation of mine charging concepts that promote standard and interoperable approaches.

“Partnerships and collaborations across a diverse range of sectors can drive significant technological change,” Rio Tinto Group Executive Safety, Technical and Projects Mark Davies said in the statement.

“This is an important, industry-wide approach that has potential to create new jobs and opportunities for suppliers, both globally and locally.”

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