Vale has announced a Memorandum of Understanding with XCMG, China’s mining and construction machinery major, to co-develop the world’s first zero-emission motor grader for mining activities. The power source was not mentioned in the statement but battery electric is the most likely option. The equipment, which is used to level mine access and haul roads, will be tested at mines in the states of Minas Gerais and Pará, in Brazil.
If it is approved after testing, Vale intends to acquire several models over the next few years. Today, the company has a fleet of 90 motor graders and is already operating conventionally powered XCMG graders, including five GR3505 units delivered in 2022.Vale is currently testing two XDR80TE electric off-highway trucks manufactured by XCMG, both with 72 t capacity – one in the Agua Limpa iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and the other in Indonesia at the Sorowako nickel mine. The replacement of fuel-powered equipment with electric or low-emission models is fundamental for Vale to achieve its goal of reducing its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 33% by 2030. Its PowerShift program was specifically created with the aim of replacing fossil fuels with clean sources of energy.
XCMG has also had success with its graders with Rio Tinto. In 2019, Rio Tinto and XCMG reached a cooperation agreement on five GR2605 graders, which was followed by cooperation on the high power grader model GR5505, including the GR5505T Pro.
The role of graders in general is becoming ever more important for Vale and Rio Tinto, as both miners operate autonomous haul truck fleets – better quality haul roads can save on tyre wear, fuel consumption, and truck frame fatigue. This means that better roads indirectly help lower cost per tonne – and for autonomous fleets this helps maximise the productivity benefits.