The world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, has rolled out its first battery electric 793 large mining truck – and it’s a truly whopping electricity-powered beast, which you can watch trundle along a dusty track in this promotional video.
Caterpillar has already entered into an agreement with mining giant Rio Tinto to deploy a fleet of 35 zero-emissions, autonomous 793s at the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara, WA. They can each haul around 265 tonnes.
Along with the announcement of the mega-truck’s maiden voyage, CAT has announced a major investment to transform its Arizona-based proving ground into a sustainable testing hub, where it says it will trial and develop the renewable-powered mining equipment of the future.
Caterpillar developed the truck with support from key mining industry customers, including major heavyweights that are struggling to clean up their corporate image.
These include BHP, the world’s largest mining company, Rio Tinto, which famously destroyed the Juukan Gorge cave, a major site of Aboriginal cultural heritage, in May 2020, and Freeport-McMoRan, operator of the world’s largest gold mine, the Grasberg Mine, in Central Papua, which has been plagued with accusations of environmental pollution. Other companies involved include Newmont Corporation, and Teck Resources Ltd.
The companies were all part of CAT’s Early Learner program, launched in 2021, which focuses on accelerating the development of Caterpillar’s battery electric trucks at participating customers’ sites.
“Our global team came together to develop this battery truck at an accelerated pace to help our customers meet their sustainability commitments,” said Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson.
“This demonstration is a significant milestone, and we are excited for these trucks to get to work at customers’ sites around the world in the near future.”
Those customers came together to witness the first live demonstration of the new truck on a seven-kilometre course. As the hulking vehicle made its progress, CAT monitored 1,100 data channels, reporting back 110,000 data points per second on the truck’s performance.
Fully loaded to capacity, the truck achieved a top speed of 60 km/h, as well as performing a one kilometre run on a 10% downhill grade, capturing the energy that would usually be lost as heat and storing it back in the battery.
The prototype truck was built at the company’s Tucson, Arizona Proving Ground, a massive expanse of dust and scrub where CAT plans to install and trials various renewable energy solutions to conventional mining activities and vehicles.
“The transformation of the Tucson Proving Ground allows Caterpillar to demonstrate our energy transition commitments and serve as a stronger advisor to customers as we navigate the changes together,” said Johnson.
“We know it will take an integrated, site-level solution for miners to achieve their carbon-reduction goals, and we’re here to help as they redefine the way they mine for generations to come.”
As part of the development of the Proving Ground, the company will investigate various renewable and hybrid energy technologies to see how they fit with the rigours of the mining industry.
This includes green hydrogen production, natural gas and 100% hydrogen reciprocating engine power generation, fuel cell power generation and energy storage systems. CAT says the site will also be powered by renewables harnessed from the region’s abundant resources of sun and wind.