Caterpillar has staked its claim to leadership in mining sustainability with the successful demonstration of a battery-electric large mining truck at its proving grounds in Arizona – a site that will itself be the focus of major investments to incorporate sustainable operations moving forward.
The demo of a battery-electric 793 mining truck is one of numerous electric projects that Caterpillar is working on – it announced both its own battery prototype and four models of battery-electric prototypes in October. This test of the 252-ton (US) truck was part of Cat’s Early Learner program, which includes key mining customers to help accelerate development and validation of battery electric trucks.
“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.”
Cat’s Early Learner customers watched a live demonstration of the prototype 793 on a seven-kilometre course at the Tucson Proving Ground in Green Valley, Arizona, where it was built. The demo saw the 793, fully loaded to its rated capacity, achieve a top speed of 60 km/h (37.3 mph). It also climbed a 10 percent grade at 12 km/h (7.5 mph) for one kilometre, as well as a one-kilometre run on a 10 percent downhill grade to capture energy that would normally be lost to heat and regenerating the energy to the battery.
After the run, the truck held enough battery energy to perform additional complete cycles, Cat reported.
Cat’s Early Learner program started in 2021 and is focused on accelerating development and validation of battery-electric trucks at participating customer sites. A key objective is collaboration – working with clients who have made commitments to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in their operations aids in advancing developments that support the energy transition.
Cat’s current solar production will expand and be paired with wind as part of the energy transition at the Tucson Proving Ground.
Proving grounds improvements add renewable energy sources and sustainability
Cat has also begun its own energy transition, investing to make the Arizona site its own “mine site of the future” through the use of renewable energy and other tools.
The objective is to implement the same sustainable solutions mining companies are incorporating, allowing Cat to understand more closely the challenges that go with an electrified mine site and develop solutions that fit into those parameters.
Cat intends to include advanced, sustainable energy sources at the facility to replace diesel gensets in the future. A solar farm will, when built out, generate up to 2 megawatts of energy, and a pair of wind turbines are expected to provide up to 3 mW at peak performance. Battery storage will provide energy when needed, and excess energy will be available to generate hydrogen for additional options. In addition, plans are to install charging infrastructure to support growing development of battery-electric equipment.
Overall Cat intends to use the facility as a learning platform for optimizing energy management and charging implementation
“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. 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,” stated Johnson.