Majors push for electric vehicle innovation

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BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale have collaborated with Austmine to introduce the Charge On Innovation Challenge, an electrification competition for mine truck fleets.

The global challenge requires participants to present new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems to reduce emissions while boosting productivity and safety.

BHP president, minerals Australia Edgar Basto said innovations from the Challenge could provide immediate solutions.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The four companies are expecting to attract participants from across the globe to provide innovative solutions and ideas for electric mine truck fleets

Participants will have the potential to trial the technology at a mining operation while showcasing innovations to BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale.

A major area of innovation that is anticipated to be addressed is the charging stations for electric mine trucks.

The time taken to charge electric mine trucks with current charging systems would result in significant productivity losses.

Austmine chief executive officer Christine Gibbs Stewart said mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies will come together with the challenge to reduce emissions.

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

“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.

“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.”

Electric motors can provide zero emissions and also provide less maintenance issues due to a reduced amount of moving parts compared with traditional diesel engines.

Rio Tinto group executive for safety, technical and projects Mark Davies said the program will help create more job opportunities.

“Innovation is the key to decarbonisation, 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.

“Partnerships and collaborations across a diverse range of sectors can drive significant technological change. This is an important, industry-wide approach that has potential to create new jobs and opportunities for suppliers, both globally and locally.”

The Charge On Innovation Challenge will accept expressions of interest from May 18, with shortlisted candidates required to pitch their concepts this year.

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