Over the next 10 years, BHP’s Escondida mine will replace its current 160-truck fleet with Cat 798 AC electric-drive haul trucks, wich are capapble of hauling 372 metric tons (410 tons). The first trucks are scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2023.

BHP, Cat, and Finning International (a Cat dealer) jointly announced an agreement this week to replace BHP’s entire haul truck fleet at the Escondida mine, the world’s largest copper producer, located in the Antofagasta Region, northern Chile.

The agreement is part of the strategic equipment renewal process developed by BHP and Escondida to replace 160 haul trucks over a 10-year period. The new Cat 798 AC electric drive trucks will feature technology that delivers significant improvements in material-moving capacity, efficiency, reliability, and safety and generate a positive impact in key initiatives for the future, such as decarbonization, diversity and inclusion, autonomous technologies, and the development of local capabilities.

The first trucks are expected to arrive at the mine in the second half of 2023, as the three companies work to replace one of the largest haul truck fleets in the mining industry. Maintenance and support services provided under the agreement advance BHP’s local employment and gender balance strategies. Finning said its Integrated Knowledge Center, located in Antofagasta, will provide top-of-the-line industry technical support for the fleet.

The agreement also allows BHP to accelerate the transition to autonomous haulage at Escondida. It also sets forth a technological path that helps Escondida meet its decarbonization goals, through the progressive implementation of zero-emission trucks.

“This agreement is an important step to continue projecting into the future Escondida and BHP´s leadership in the industry,” Escondida President James Whittaker said. “It will allow us to generate significant efficiencies at the operational level, but it is also in line with some of the main challenges that drive us as a company: innovation for the future of mining, decarbonization, and development of capabilities in Antofagasta´s community. We have great expectations regarding the benefits that will be generated in the short and long term for both the company and the Antofagasta region.”

“The Caterpillar team is excited to support the successful deployment of machines and technology that will facilitate a step-function improvement in BHP’s operational excellence,” said Denise Johnson, group president of Resource Industries for Cat. “We applaud BHP as this mine site transformation accelerates the delivery of their aggressive sustainability targets.”

“We are very pleased to build on our long-term relationship with BHP to support its Escondida operations by improving efficiency, productivity, and safety, as well as reducing its carbon footprint, supporting its diversity and inclusion journey, and contributing to the development of capabilities in Antofagasta,” Finning President and CEO Scott Thomson said. “This is the largest fleet deal in Finning’s history, and will significantly expand the Cat’s truck population and support the transition towards cleaner energy, with electric drive trucks, and future zero-emission trucks.”