Brazilian mining giant Vale and Caterpillar will collaborate on testing battery-electric and ethanol haul truck variants.

The agreement involves trialing various energy transfer systems as Vale aims to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 mining carbon emissions by 33% by 2030.

Vale will test the battery electric trucks, with a capacity of 240 tonnes, at its operations in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Additionally, Caterpillar’s energy transfer technology will undergo testing in Pará, Brazil.

As part of the agreement, the companies will assess the viability of ethanol-fueled haul trucks, which, according to Vale, may help the company take a vital step towards net zero.

Ludmila Nascimento, Director of Vale Energy and Decarbonization, stated, “We believe that ethanol has great potential to contribute to the 2030 target. This is because it is a widely adopted fuel with an established supply network in Brazil”.

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Nascimento added, “We recognize that achieving this goal requires an active partnership with manufacturers, and we are committed to supporting them in this endeavor”.

“We are developing options to decarbonize Vale’s operations, such as electrification and alternative mining fuels. The most viable solutions will be adopted”.

Caterpillar expressed its satisfaction in collaborating with a global stage partner to develop their products.

Denise Johnson, President of Caterpillar Resource Industries Group, emphasized that Vale had been a crucial partner in technological and product deployments.

“We look forward to continuing that collaboration as we launch the next generation of our iconic mining solutions to support our customer’s operational and environmental objectives”.


Ravensthorpe Nickel is in the process of winding down

The Ravensthorpe Nickel operation will proceed with its foreshadowed closure as planned throughout May.

Wind-down operations are already underway as First Quantum, the operation’s owner, yields to a persistent drop in Nickel prices.

As Indonesia ramps up its Nickel production, many Australian producers face increasing cost pressures.

First Quantum joins a string of Nickel closures; however, its significance lies in its size.

The company stated, “First Quantum acknowledges that its decision will have a significant impact on its employees and their families”.

A smaller team from current RNO employees ensures site safety and preservation for future restart.

All production at the site will cease by late May, marking the beginning of the care and maintenance period.

First Quantum endeavored to engage the affected local communities to alleviate the impact.

“The company will continue to support the local community and play an active role in the Shire of Ravensthorpe during the care and maintenance period,” stated a spokesperson for First Quantum.

“This will include ensuring a large proportion of the care and maintenance team are based locally and maintaining the current First Quantum-owned housing within Hopetoun”.

After reviewing its operation, First Quantum determined that mothballing the facility was economically unavoidable.

“Despite efforts to maintain operations by transitioning to a new approach that involved stopping mining activities, processing stockpiles, and adjusting production methods, the site is currently incurring significant and projected losses,” the spokesperson elaborated.

RNO will continue to fulfill all its environmental management and monitoring, rehabilitation, and other regulatory requirements for the site.


MinRes Fields First Autonomous Road Trains

Innovative road trains in the Pilbara are nearing full autonomy in transporting iron ore.

MinRes has embraced the Autonomous Haulage Solution (AHS) for its Ken’s Bore mine near Onslow, WA.

The inaugural fleet of road trains, retrofitted for autonomy by Hexagon in Perth, has recently arrived. Initially, drivers will operate them as their capacity and safety undergo rigorous testing.

These Kenworth C509 prime movers are formidable single-engine vehicles capable of transporting 330 tonnes of iron ore.

MinRes plans to deploy a comprehensive fleet of 150 trucks, each equipped with AHS technology.

David Geraghty, MinRes’s Director of Technology and Innovation, expressed enthusiasm for this milestone in Onslow, also highlighting the transformative potential of autonomous road trains in the industry.

Geraghty remarked, “It’s fantastic to see the first batch arrive in Onslow in preparation for first-ore mid-2024”. Underscoring that operations will initially involve crewed operations, with autonomous trials, safety driver validations scheduled later in the year.

These trucks will traverse a dedicated, fenced haul road spanning 150km from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the MinRes transhipping terminal.


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