Massive mining fleet begins shift to green technology

The world’s largest copper mine will begin its heavy equipment change with the help of a Vancouver company.

Caterpillar mining vehicle.

The first Cat electric drive trucks are expected to arrive at the Escondida mine in the second half of 2023.

Key Takeaways:

  • The world’s largest copper mine in Chile is switching over to electric vehicles.
  • The fleet of 160 haul trucks will be replaced over the next 10 years.
  • The high-tech vehicles will also support the future transition to autonomous driving.

The Whole Story:

BHP Group Limited, Caterpillar and Vancouver-based Finning International announced an agreement to replace BHP’s entire haul truck fleet at the Escondida mine, the world’s largest copper producer, located in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile.

The agreement is part of a strategic equipment renewal process developed by Escondida. The mine will begin using Caterpillar 798 AC electric drive trucks that feature improvements in material-moving capacity, efficiency, reliability and safety.

The Australian-based resource company noted that the new equipment will also generate a positive impact in key initiatives for the future, such as decarbonization, diversity and inclusion, autonomous technologies, and the development of local capabilities.

“This agreement is an important step to continue projecting into the future Escondida | BHP´s leadership in the industry,” said James Whittaker, president of Escondida | BHP. “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, decarbonization, and development of capabilities in Antofagasta´s community. We have great expectations regarding the benefits that will be generated in the short and long term for both the company and the Antofagasta region.”

This image offers a peek into the Escondia Mine, the world’s largest producer of copper concentrates and cathodes. – BHP

The first trucks are expected to arrive at the mine late next year, with delivery of the remaining trucks to extend over the next 10 years as the three companies work to replace one of the world’s largest mining fleets. 

The Escondida site currently uses more than 160 haul trucks. Maintenance and support services provided under the agreement advance BHP’s local employment and gender balance strategies. Finning´s Integrated Knowledge Center, located in Antofagasta, will provide technical support for the fleet. 

“We are very pleased to build on our long-term relationship with BHP to support its Escondida operations by improving efficiency, productivity, and safety, as well as reducing its carbon footprint, supporting its diversity and inclusion journey, and contributing to the development of capabilities in Antofagasta,” said Scott Thomson, president and CEO of Finning International. “This is the largest fleet deal in Finning’s history, and will significantly expand the Caterpillar truck population and support the transition towards cleaner energy, with electric drive trucks, and future zero-emission trucks.”


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