PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified major Rio Tinto has signed a memorandum of understanding with Caterpillar to advance the development of zero-emissions autonomous trucks for use at Rio’s Western Australian mining operations.
The collaboration will see Rio Tinto work with Caterpillar to advance the development of the manufacturer’s future 220-t 793 zero-emissions autonomous haul truck including the validation of Caterpillar’s emerging zero-emissions technology.
Rio and Caterpillar will progress a series of development milestones to include a 793 prototype pilot programme, testing and pre-production trials.
It is anticipated that the world’s first operational deployment of approximately 35 new Caterpillar 793 zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks will be at Gudai-Darri once development is complete. Gudai-Darri is Rio’s most technically advanced iron-ore mine, in the Pilbara, Western Australia
“Our ambition to reach net zero emissions across our operations is a priority. Reaching this ambition will require new and innovative solutions and partnerships with supplier partners like Caterpillar. This collaboration represents a small but important step on that journey,” said Rio chief commercial officer Alf Barrios.
“We look forward to working together to validate these zero-emissions haul trucks in just a few years’ time. The advanced technology at Gudai-Darri puts it at the forefront of new mining operations globally and we look forward to adding Caterpillar zero-emissions haul trucks to the site.”
Caterpillar Group president Denise Johnson said on Wednesday that the integration of autonomy with a zero-emissions fleet demonstrates Rio’s commitment to reach net zero emissions.
“By leveraging these technologies across their sites, Rio Tinto can more safely increase productivity, efficiency and be more sustainable. We are pleased to be part of Rio Tinto’s sustainability journey and look forward to building on our long-standing collaboration.”
Rio in June this year announced that it would deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water truck at Gudai-Darri, which will also be produced by Caterpillar. Rio is also assessing multiple project scopes for Gudai-Darri Phase 2 as part of an ongoing $44-million prefeasibility study.
Construction continues to progress with production ramp-up on track for early 2022. Once complete, the mine will have a yearly capacity of 43-million tonnes, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio’s flagship iron-ore product.