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Codelco launches first electric mining truck for local industry

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Global Mining Review,

The El Teniente Division of Codelco with the presence of the Minister of Mining, Baldo Prokurica, the Minister of Economy, Lucas Palacios, the Executive President of Codelco, Octavio Araneda, and the CEO of Engie Chile, Axel Levêque, has debuted the first electric mining truck in Chile's mining industry.

The mining equipment comes from German brand Scharf and will operate within this operations’ centre in a joint project with the Engie company, which will be in charge of data monitoring and load management. It is the first versatile electrical equipment to cover extensive stretches, both outside and inside the El Teniente underground mine.

The new truck, an equipment for mining use adapted with a 100% electric power train which helps move all of the diesel, is due to begin its industrial test stage in which it is planned to validate its operation in terms of power, resistance and energy consumption in underground mine and high mountain industrial road conditions.

Prokurica commented: “We want to congratulate the effort that the administration of Octavio Araneda, Codelco's Executive President, is making with electromobility. It is a commitment that Chile has made and that demonstrates it by being one of the countries that has more electric vehicles in collective locomotion. Its incorporation into mining also generates important benefits. Electromobility is pure Chile because the vehicles have 4 times more copper and use lithium batteries that contain cobalt.”

Given that this type of truck is one of the most used vehicles in the national mining industry – only Codelco has more than 1300 diesel version mining trucks – this experience will promote a market for the development of this type of low-emission equipment.

“At Codelco, we are taking the first steps in a great revolution that is taking place worldwide, which is electrification. We have defined a path towards increasing the incorporation of electric energy. We have a road map for underground mining projected to 2030, in which the majority of production equipment will be electric. Codelco is transforming itself and an important part of that process is innovation and technological development that goes hand in hand with sustainability,” added Araneda.

“Mining activity has been one of the engines that has sustained our economy in these difficult months. Without stopping, even increasing its production; with strict compliance with the established protocols, the sector has managed to push the car of our economy. When things they are done well, with the commitment of the companies and their workers, we can get ahead,” said Palacios, highlighting the leading role of the main Chilean state company and of the entire mining industry in the reactivation of the economy, which around the world has been hit by the current health crisis. Codelco’s annual investment in structural projects is US$20 000 million (2019 – 2028), generating employment and extending the useful life of its deposits between 40 – 50 years.

Currently, a large part of the electromobility solutions available in the market are not necessarily designed for large mining conditions, so it is necessary to develop pilot experiences to collect operational data and strategic designs that allow determining the requirements for a future massive implementation in tasks.

“We are focused on developing solutions that contribute to greener and carbon-neutral mining. Our relationship with Codelco is long-standing and we have always been co-designing energy alternatives to make your business more efficient and sustainable. Today we advance in this pioneering pilot in mining operations, which we are betting will open doors for a new phase of green mobility in the industry” added Leveque.

Autonomy, recharging times, vehicle wear, user experience and driving safety are some of the aspects that will be monitored during the 12 months that are contemplated for the industrial test of this truck, in order to determine and identify the conditions that allow scaling this type of technology in the state company.

In 2018 Codelco began the development of electromobility pilots with a pioneering plan for testing electric vehicles in service in the Northern District. This programme made it possible, for the first time, to face electric vehicles in real conditions of a mining operation in order to validate technological, business and sustainability variables, in addition to understanding the technology and identifying the challenges to extrapolate, incorporate and scale it to other processes . The positive results obtained led the company to advance in two lines: passenger transport and equipment in operating areas.

Codelco was the first mining company in Chile to test an electric bus in its operations, both in the El Teniente Division and the Chuquicamata Division, which allowed the incorporation of buses for the transport of passengers in different geographical conditions, from the arid and wide desert to the roads. mountain ranges with high slopes and cold in the central zone. In addition, due to the complexity and specificity of underground mining, the state-owned mining company worked on the transformation of the first electric minibus from diesel equipment, a vehicle that has operated inside the El Teniente underground mine.

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