Vale tests battery powered trucks in Brazil and Indonesia

Two 72-tonne off-highway trucks from XCMG Mining Machinery Co will be tested at Água Limpa in Minas Gerais, and at Sorowako in Indonesia

Vale has announced that it has received two battery-powered 72-tonne off-highway trucks, and that they will undergo testing in mines in Brazil and Indonesia.

In a statement, the mining giant said that it was the first global mining company to test the trucks, which do not emit CO2 as they have replaced diesel with electricity from renewable sources. The vehicles also reduce noise and minimise the impact on communities that live around the mining operations.

Vale’s testing and progress towards vehicle electrification

The two mines where the trucks are being tested are Água Limpa in the state of Minas Gerais, and Sorowako in Indonesia. The equipment has been produced by XCMG Mining Machinery Co, a subsidiary of Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group. XCMG is the largest machine manufacturer in China.

The move represents another significant step towards the electrification of Vale’s assets, the statement said. In 2019, the company announced its goal of zeroing its direct and indirect net emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 2050. In order to achieve this, it is estimated that the company will need to invest between US$4 billion to US$6 billion.

“We see this partnership with XCMG as another important step in our long-term relationship with China, and towards more sustainable mining. Our intention is to expand, together with global partners, the development and co-creation of technologies that respect the environment and zero emissions,” said Alexandre Pereira, Executive Vice President of Global Business Solutions at Vale.

Part of the PowerShift program, the 72-tonne electric off-highway trucks, model XDR80TE, have lithium batteries that have a storage capacity of 525Kwh. These are able to operate up to 36 cycles, or just over a day of operation, without the need to stop to recharge. 

The trucks also come with the possibility of energy regeneration during descents, reduction of mechanical brake use, maintenance, and vibration, in addition to providing more operational comfort to the driver. Furthermore, the truck batteries can provide the function of reverse energy regeneration as the electric motor is capable of generating electrical energy during the braking process.

All of this can improve the operating capability of the equipment, which increases battery power sustainability from 6 hours to 10 hours or even longer. Additionally, the equipment has multiple temperature control technology, which allows it to adapt to high temperatures, humidity, and periods of intense rain.

“The delivery of the latest XDR80TE electric mining truck at this time is the result of a joint effort between XCMG and Vale to promote global environmental protection as well as green and sustainable economic development,” added Hanson Liu, Vice President of XCMG Machinery and General Manager of XCMG Import & Export Co.

Currently, emissions from diesel off-highway trucks represent around 9% of Vale's total scope 1 and 2 emissions, the company statement said.

The Powershift program was created by Vale with the aim of replacing fossil fuels with clean sources in its operations. The program aims to advance innovative solutions to electrify the company's mines and railroads. In addition to the 100% electric truck, Vale’s strategy for electrifying assets also includes the operation of battery-powered locomotives in the yards of the ports of Tubarão, in Vitória, and Ponta da Madeira, in São Luís. In Canada, Powershift has also carried out tests with electrical equipment in underground mines in Canada – there are currently around 40 in operation.

Vale's operational equipment electrification strategy also includes a partnership with its peers BHP and Rio Tinto. Last year, the three companies, along with 17 other mining companies, launched the “Charge On Innovation Challenge”, a global open innovation challenge aimed at finding innovative solutions to accelerate the safe charging of batteries for future electric off-highway trucks.

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