Caterpillar shows off its first-ever underground electric mining truck

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This week, Caterpillar successfully demonstrated a prototype of an all-new battery electric underground mining truck at its Australian proving grounds, making it the latest addition to a rapidly-growing portfolio of battery electric and semi-autonomous mining machines.

Cat has been on something of a roll lately, announcing new OEM-level collaborations and showing off more additions to its electric equipment ecosystem almost continuously since the launch of its 793 above-ground electric mining truck in Arizona back in 2022.

This latest announcement, however, highlights the company’s first-ever underground electric mining truck. Visually similar to the existing AD45 articulated hauler (shown, below), the prototype electric mining truck was developed with customer input and support from the gold mining experts at Newmont Corporation, and aims to help Newmont achieve its vision of a fully connected, automated, zero carbon mining system.

Cat AD45 underground hauler

Cat AD45 underground haul truck (diesel); via Caterpillar.
Cat AD45 underground haul truck (diesel); via Caterpillar.

“This milestone is a reflection of the partnership between our teams at Newmont and Caterpillar, showcasing the impact of strong collaboration in the mining industry,” said Rob Atkinson, Executive Vice President at Newmont. “Achieving this milestone together, combining capabilities and shared values, is a testament to the strength of our strategic alliance.”

The upcoming battery electric truck represents the second half of Caterpillar’s first fully electric underground load and haul solution, the first half being the R1700 XE battery electric loader, which was took center stage at this year’s CES show and is currently available for order. In addition to emissions-free operation, the company also showed off its growing autonomy and automation capabilities, which address some of the biggest safety concerns faced by mining customers – all associated with the task of repetitively moving massive machinery through dark, cramped, and loud underground spaces.

“This is a milestone for the entire Caterpillar team as we work closer than ever with Newmont to provide more sustainable choices for the underground mining industry,” said Denise Johnson, Caterpillar’s Resource Industries Group President. “We are building on our foundation of industry-leading autonomous solutions for surface operations, along with our deep experience in underground technology, to provide significant improvement in both productivity and safety for underground mining customers.”

Electrek’s Take

You can count me (Jo) among the of people who don’t believe on-road full self driving is going to be a thing anytime soon. That said, a mine is very different from Main Street, and an autonomous agent that doesn’t get tired towards the end of a shift, that doesn’t get complacent from tracing the same route a dozen or more times a day, and that can see in the dark could dramatically improve working conditions underground – and that I am all for.

Source | Featured Image: Caterpillar, via Equipment Journal.

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