Escondida | BHP submits environmental impact statement for mining truck trolley assist system

Escondida | BHP has submitted an Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) to Chile’s Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA), to advance its project ‘Implementation of the Mining Truck Electrification System in Escondida Norte’ which seeks to assist the transportation of mining trucks to the interior of the mine using a trolley system.

The project considers the construction of a new electrical substation and transmission lines both inside and around the Escondida Norte pit. These installations will electrically assist the transit of trucks in the areas of the mine where they are loaded with copper ore and, consequently, consume greater fuel. With this new technology, instead of using diesel, they will be propelled by electric energy, thus reducing operational emissions of greenhouse gases and improving the productivity associated with the performance of trucks given the higher travel speed.

About the project, President of Escondida | BHP Alejandro Tapia expressed that “the electric trolley system is one of the initiatives with which we seek to advance towards a safer and more sustainable way of operating thanks to technology. This project will allow us to reduce the fuel consumption of our haul trucks and thus advance our goal of net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The initiative considers an approximate investment of US$250 million and during its construction phase employ an approximate workforce of 112 people per day on average with a peak of 160 people per day.

The trolley project joins other technological transformation initiatives that the company maintains in different stages of study and execution, among them, the progressive incorporation of autonomy in its mining equipment. To date, Escondida | BHP has six autonomous trucks in full operation and by 2025 it expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous equipment in South America.

The mine continues to phase in Caterpillar 372 t class 798 AC electric drive trucks such as those pictured following an agreement signed in August 2022 between BHP Group Ltd, Caterpillar Inc, and Finning International Inc. These will eventually replace the entire 160+ strong Escondida mining truck fleet.