Mining giants issue challenge to take charge of innovation

Mining giants issue challenge to take charge of innovation

Mining giants BHP, Vale, and Rio Tinto have issued a global challenge to find new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems to help cut emissions from surface mine operations, and unlock safety, productivity, and operational improvements.

The “Big Three”, fierce rivals for global iron ore market share, have joined forces with mining equipment, technology and services industry body Austmine to create the Charge on Innovation Challenge.

The challenge is expected to attract interest from resource companies that maintain substantial haul truck fleets and are looking for innovative concepts to deliver electricity to large battery-electric haul trucks.

But Austmine chief executive officer Christine Gibbs Stewart said it could interest companies outside the mining sector.

“We expect the challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defence to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks,” Ms Gibbs Stewart said.

Current stationary charging systems require substantial time to charge large trucks, which would result in significant lost productivity.

The mining industry needs multi-megawatt scale, fast-charging concepts capable of delivering around 400kWh to charge (and propel) a truck within the truck’s haul cycle (load, travel, dump, return, queue).

“METS and mining companies are united on the challenge to reduce emissions across the supply chain,” Ms Gibbs Stewart said.

“With 80 per cent of METS companies supplying products and services outside mining, the challenge leverages the experience and innovation of industries in the automotive, battery makers, aerospace, defence and other sectors.

“We are confident that we will find a solution to the delivery of electricity to trucks in the complex operating environment of a large surface mine.”

President of BHP Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said: “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.”

Rio Tinto Group Executive Safety, Technical and Projects Mark Davies said: “This is a global call-out to innovators to change the way haul truck systems operate in the mining sector. Innovation is the key to decarbonisation, and we expect the challenge will deliver exciting new concepts.”

Carlos Mello, Ferrous Engineering Director of Vale said: “Mine electrification requires considerable integration between mine planning and operations. We need to develop new charging solutions that can be incorporated into our operations in parallel to the development of battery trucks, to ensure we create a truly sustainable electric haulage system in all aspects – clean, competitive and flexible.”

The challenge is expected to demonstrate an emerging market for charging solutions in mining, accelerate commercialisation of solutions, and integrate innovations from other industries into the mining sector.

The Expression of Interest process opened on May 18 and closes on June 30. Candidates who make the short list are expected to pitch their concepts later in the year.

The challenge is open to vendors across all industries globally.

Other mining companies can join the challenge as a patron. Eligibility criteria include:

  • Control a truck fleet of more than 30 trucks.
  • Be a producer in the mining and metals industry.
  • Commit to be an active contributor to the Charge on Innovation Challenge.
  • Have demonstrated commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your mining operations in the short and medium term through the use of operational and technological innovation.