Freeport’s Cerro Verde deploys Caterpillar 372 t ultraclass electric drive truck in Peru

Caterpillar continues to see successful rollouts of its ultraclass 410 ton (372 t) class electric drive truck, the 798 AC. The latest mine to deploy the model is Cerro Verde, the Peruvian copper mine operated by Freeport McMoRan. The trucks are being delivered by major Cat dealer Ferreyros, which has also supplied 798 AC trucks to the Antamina (BHP/Glencore/Teck/Mitsubishi) and Toquepala (Southern Copper – part of Grupo Mexico) copper mines in Peru, while of course Anglo American’s Quellaveco copper mine, also in Peru, is operating a 794 AC (327 ton, 297 t) fleet, which is also autonomous using Command for hauling. The 798 AC was first validated in the Canadian oil sands by dealer Finning, working with a major customer there.

Freeport is actively deploying more electric drive trucks at its operations. In its 2020 Climate Report, it said it was making an interim move to deploy diesel-electric drive ultraclass mining trucks at its North and South American sites – while these trucks are part of the norm in mining already, to date Freeport operations have been dominated by Caterpillar mechanical drive trucks and it is also an acceptance that any future decision to further deploy electrification to truck fleets including via retrofits, will be a lot easier with an existing diesel electric fleet. Its Americas mines include copper mines Cerro Verde in Peru and El Abra in Chile then the US copper and moly operations – Bagdad, Chino, Climax, Henderson, Morenci, Safford and Tyrone.

The company opted to start with Cerro Verde in Peru: “At our Americas operations, we are evaluating diesel-electric, ultra-class haul trucks to potentially integrate into our decarbonisation roadmap for our open-pit mines. These high-payload-capacity, diesel-electric haul trucks can provide immediate benefits such as reduced unit costs, increased load capacity, and reduced energy consumption and GHG emissions. They also can provide us with a more flexible platform for the future. In order to evaluate performance, we have made commitments to trial and commission both Komatsu and Caterpillar 400-ton class diesel-electric trucks at our Cerro Verde operations in Peru, starting in early 2022.”

Caterpillar states: “With the highest standard payload available in its size class and Cat® TorqueBoost technology, the 798 AC mining truck can move 410 t (372 t) through some of the toughest conditions at your mine site. The efficient design adds strength where it counts to carry more payload without sacrificing durability for the long haul.” The 798 AC it adds delivers “high speed on grade, easier maintenance, and excellent electric retarding and brake performance. The result? Improved productivity, high availability and more confident operators.” Better serviceability is provided by engine walkways, service platforms, modular components and ground-level, grouped service point.

A first overhaul life of 25,000 hours drives lower cost of ownership. The engine (C175-16 or C175-20 for high altitude operations) and dual bearing drive alternator can be serviced separately, eliminating shimming. Modular wheel motors and final drives enable service on individual components. The sealed and pressurised inverter cabinet requires no cleaning, eliminating recurring maintenance while it is equipped with a long-life radial grid with AC motor control and serviceable elements.