Komatsu’s focus on across the board flexible electrification solutions

It was back in March 2021 that IM first revealed Komatsu’s power agnostic strategy for its mining truck future. It committed to the development of ‘power agnostic’ dump trucks that could operate with a variety of power sources – such as engines, batteries, trolley systems and hydrogen fuel cells – by 2030. Since then it has made significant progress, working closely with its mining company partners that form part of its GHG Alliance, which includes BHP, Rio Tinto, Codelco, Boliden, Glencore and others.

Dan Funcannon, Senior Vice President, Electric Drive Trucks, Komatsu

This progress has been made both in testing and development of the truck iterations as well as through strategic moves – notably its November 2023 acquisition of American Battery Solutions, Inc (ABS), a battery manufacturer headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the December 2023 announcement that it is co-developing a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck with General Motors.

At its Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) near Tucson working with Siemens Mobility it built a test trolley line, on which in mid-2023, the GHG Alliance members saw a prototype battery version of the Power Agnostic truck – the EVX truck – running a circuit on battery, static charging of the battery with the truck hooked up to the trolley line via pantograph, and a run up the trolley line highlighting the battery being charged and increased speed in the dynamic environment.

New trolley projects to help lower emissions from Komatsu diesel trucks are underway at Glencore’s Lomas Bayas copper mine in Chile and other sites, plus have been successfully built and operated at Copper Mountain in British Columbia, now part of HudBay, using 830E trucks; and at Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine in Namibia using the 960E.

In addition, in the mining shovels space, Komatsu is pushing the envelope with its largest cable electric models – the P&H 4800 XPC having been successfully commissioned at Teck Fording River Coal and at Anglo Platinum Mogalakewna, with another order from a major copper mine for multiple units in place. In hydraulic cable electric excavators it remains the market leader – since its inaugural electric hydraulic mining excavator deliveries in 1983, as of February 2024 it had supplied over 260 units, which had accumulated more than 12.5 million operation hours. This includes units from its PC3000 to PC8000 models; and it will soon expand its range again with the addition of the 900 t class PC9000. Added to that it already has significant experience in conversions from existing diesel hydraulic excavators over to cable electric.

Underground, Komatsu has now introduced the second generation of its Z2 product line of small-class development drilling & bolting equipment with unique enhancements and additions, including the first battery-electric offerings within Komatsu’s underground hard rock portfolio – plus underground BEV loaders and trucks are part of its roadmap.

At the Electric Mine 2024 conference at Crown Perth in Western Australia next week, May 21-23, Komatsu will have a major presence, including a large delegation plus it is a Gold Sponsor with a prominent exhibitor booth, and it is bringing a battery-electric PC210E excavator to the Outdoor Showcase. And it has two speakers in the event line-up – on Day 1 in the Surface Mining stream, Thomas Harsk, Komatsu Germany Business Development Manager, and Martin Luckock, Oceania Sales & Support Manager will present: ‘Digging deeper – electrification in hydraulic mining excavators. On Day 1 in the Underground Mining stream, Komatsu Mining’s VP Hard Rock Business Development, Rudie Boshoff will present ‘Navigating the shift to electrified mining: critical considerations for mines of the future.’ You can still register to attend at

Ahead of the much anticipated conference, IM recently caught up with Dan Funcannon, Senior Vice President, Electric Drive Trucks, Komatsu, to get some insights into its electrification journey.

Q Back in 2021, Komatsu  unveiled its power agnostic strategy closely followed by the Power Agnostic truck at MINExpo 2021 and then the EVX. While all battery, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell options all seem to still be in the mix, where at this stage does Komatsu see the greatest potential and demand?

Komatsu continues to be dedicated to the power agnostic platform. This approach will enable us to stay adaptable as the market responds to and identifies the most viable power source. Currently the market is heavily leaning toward full electrification through battery power, but hydrogen fuel cells are starting to gain traction with select customers.

Q Can you summarise the main challenges that remain whether technical or practical, delivering a functioning, multi-unit electric fleet?

Komatsu realises that the change to all-electric fleet is mainly focused on the entire ecosystem. We are working on multiple projects with key partners to offer an entire ecosystem for mining. Autonomous, fleet management and energy management all play a crucial role in making the transition to zero emissions successful.

Q When does Komatsu expect to deliver its first ‘hands on’ pilot units for customers to test and trial at their own sites? Do you see these as running as part of main fleets to get a handle on capabilities?

Komatsu is working with select customers to test different technologies. The first pilots of Power Agnostic Diesel are planned for Q1 2025 and Power Agnostic Battery for Q2 2026. The battery pilots will first be introduced in a dedicated area until miners are comfortable with the new technology and the associated processes. Once they are ready, there will be a plan for integration into the main fleet to prove out fleet interoperability.

Q Dynamic charging is set to play an important role in the electric mine, as evidenced by the number of new trolley projects that have been announced for some of the world’s largest mines. Do you expect most or all of the first electric surface mines to involve trolley in some form, easing any transition to greater use of fixed charging?

Komatsu sees dynamic charging as a key to maintaining productivity in mining. Being able to charge dynamically will allow haul trucks to continuously operate to maintain productivity compared with the current diesel fleet. We are working with industry leading partners to enhance the product available today, while also looking to the future for more flexibility, lower cost and enhanced productivity options.

Q Can we expect any movement in full battery vehicles from Komatsu underground and can you give us a flavour of the Komatsu ‘green fleet’ roadmap for its underground portfolio?

We’re in the process of developing battery-electric equipment to support various underground applications. To learn more, visit us at The Electric Mine 2024 at booth 30 next week and in September at MINExpo 2024 in Las Vegas at booth 7132, Central Hall.