BHP, Rio, Vale collab on global truck electrification

A trio of top global mining operators – BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale – have come together on a mission crucial to the future of mining with the launch of the Charge On Innovation Challenge, a competition inviting innovators from across the world to develop new design concepts for haul truck electrification systems.

The contest, open now, aims to help significantly reduced surface mining operation emissions as well as boost improvements in safety, productivity and operations. The three operators are the founding patrons of the competition alongside Australia’s Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) group Austmine.

Austmine said the challenge should attract interest from resource companies with substantial haul truck fleets that are looking for new concepts that will bring electricity to large battery-electric machines.

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

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

According to Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart, 80% of METS companies supply products and services outside mining, so the challenge leverages their experience and innovation as well – from areas of industry such as 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,” the CEO said.

“We expect the challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors…to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks.”

President of BHP Minerals Australia Edgar Basto added: “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. We understand that these challenges will not be solved overnight, but together we can find the best concepts that can be applied across the industry.”

Rio Tinto Group Executive Safety, Technical and Projects Mark Davies called the competition a “global call-out” for innovators with the potential to change hoe haul trucks operate across mining.

“Innovation is the key to decarbonization, and we expect the challenge will deliver exciting new concepts that could drive huge long-term benefits for our industry and the environment,” he said.

All of the groups involved stress that the mining industry must be at the forefront of taking on climate change, and the Charge On Innovation Challenge is an example of great collaborative work in that direction.

They point out that, in addition to providing a zero-carbon energy source, the conversion of mobile mining equipment to battery-electric can potentially unlock value.

“Several non-traditional mining sector vendors are actively developing technologies that can be applied to mine electrification. 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 companies said.

The Challenge Expression of Interest process is currently open. Candidates who make the short list will pitch their concepts later this year.

More information on entry is available at

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