Preparing for the Future of Mining Starts Today
In mining, companies face some of the strictest environmental standards that demand action to reduce current emissions, but they also must plan for the future and bridge the gap between today’s diesel-powered equipment and tomorrow’s low emissions solutions.
Adopting alternative energy technology, as well as the overall process of moving away from gas and diesel to low carbon fuels, is referred to as the energy transition. While the full transition may take decades to complete, decarbonization solutions are rapidly advancing and it’s expected that battery-electric mining equipment will be available within the decade.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Caterpillar have announced partnerships across the globe to develop large battery-powered mining trucks that facilitate the trajectory of low-emissions mining. These machines will play a considerable role in reaching aspirational net-zero goals.
But since future state equipment is not yet available, how can companies make changes today?
In many cases, pre-ordering opportunities are available, and demand is already ramping up. This is where an equipment dealer can play an important role in finding solutions to bridge near-term environmental objectives with long-term strategies.
By understanding the customer’s needs, a dealer can bring the right partners to the table to give companies the equipment and tools they need with current solutions, as well as provide low-carbon solutions as soon as they become available.
Navigating the energy transition
Finning is supplying Artemis with a fleet of Cat® 793F haul trucks, hydraulic shovels, and other primary and ancillary Caterpillar equipment to meet the customer’s near-term needs. Although they are diesel powered, the trucks are equipped with telematics that provide a wide range of details to the customer so they can measure, track, and reduce their carbon emissions.
More importantly, it also gives the customer the option to place orders for Caterpillar’s battery-electric haul trucks beginning in 2029, which ties in with Artemis’ goal to power the project by clean electricity through the company’s planned 135-kilometre long, 230kV electricity transmission line that will connect to the BC Hydro grid.
This kind of solution provides a unique value as it offers the customer a tangible plan to meet tightening emissions requirements and decarbonize by 2030. It also means Artemis will be among the first to receive Caterpillar’s battery-electric 793F haul trucks once they’re ready for market.
For Artemis, the fleet transition signifies a key milestone for its Blackwater Project and will reduce the carbon footprint of its operations. In other words, it’s a clear example of how planning today can help create solutions for tomorrow.
The future of mining
Dealers, OEMs, and mining companies are changing the way they operate, and all are striving to reach both internal and external emissions targets, while also maximizing their productivity. What’s clear is the energy transition will play a significant role in reducing GHG emissions to ultimately make good on 10-, 20- and 30-year commitments.
Companies can do their part today and start by utilizing the latest diesel engine technology and telematics solutions to optimize operations and reduce fuel consumption and non-productive idle time. They can also utilize biodiesel blends where possible to lower GHG emissions and improve air quality for miners in underground applications. However, while a step in the right direction, these solutions are limited in how much they can help.
New and emerging technologies like battery-electric, compressed natural gas (CNG), and renewable natural gas (RNG) powered vehicles can make a far more substantial environmental impact. They can also help companies make the most significant strides towards their sustainability goals and provide proof to regulators or investors that they can meet tightening industry demands.
Planning for, and investing in, your fleet of tomorrow starts by partnering with the right dealer that understands your near-term and long-term needs. With the right advice and solutions, companies can explore and invest in new technologies for future and even start to improve efficiencies, source cleaner energy solutions, and use renewable energy where possible, today.
While the future may seem distant, alternatively powered mining vehicles will be here sooner than some might expect and that means the time to prepare is now.
About the Author
Cheryl Gray is Finning’s Vice President of Mining, and a certified management accountant in Alberta. Cheryl first joined Finning in 2005, since then she has held numerous finance and executive positions across various organizational divisions. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta where she earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting and finance.
Finning is the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer delivering unrivalled service for over 85 years, selling, renting, and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers in various industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications.
Finning was first established in 1933 by Earl B. Finning, and has built its name on integrity, reliability, and resourcefulness, growing as a result of its genuine commitment to earning customer loyalty. With its broad product support infrastructure and unmatched service capabilities, Finning delivers solutions that enable customers to achieve the lowest equipment owning and operating costs, while maximizing uptime.