Rio Tinto and Caterpillar to roll out zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks


Image: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto has teamed up with Caterpillar to develop zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks that will be used at Rio Tinto’s Western Australian mining sites.

Under a memorandum of understanding, the plan is to develop 35 new 220-tonne 793 zero-emissions haul trucks to be used at the Gudai-Darri iron ore mine, located in the Pilbara region.

As part of the development, prototypes will be developed, tested, and undergo pre-production trials before the trucks are rolled out on-site.

The move is part of the mining giant’s $1 billion climate change commitment where it plans to have net zero emissions by 2050.

“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,” Rio Tinto chief commercial officer Alf Barrios said.

“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.”

In June, Rio Tinto worked with Caterpillar to deploy three fully autonomous water trucks at its Gundai-Darri site. Each truck features an on-board system that can automatically detect when water application is needed on the roads to suppress dry and dusty conditions on-site. It can also recognise when it is time to refill, prompting them to self-drive to the water stand, park, and top-up before returning to the field.

Rio Tinto first introduced the use of fully autonomous haul trucks more than a decade ago, as one of its first steps in its Mine of the Future program. Ever since, the company has been expanding its autonomous trucking fleet.

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