Jun 22, 2021

Rio Tinto plans automated Caterpillar trucks at Gudai-Darri

Rio Tinto
Caterpillar
Automation
Gudai-Darri
3 min
Rio Tinto will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water trucks at its $2.6bn Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region

Rio Tinto will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water trucks at its $2.6bn Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The new vehicles, primarily used for dust suppression on site, will enhance productivity by enabling mine operations to digitally track water consumption and reduce waste.

Caterpillar autonomous water trucks added to Gudai-Darri’s fleet

Developed through a successful collaboration with leading equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, three water trucks will join Gudai-Darri’s fleet of Caterpillar heavy mobile equipment including autonomous haul trucks and production drills. The vehicle’s intelligent on-board system detects dry and dusty conditions on site, triggering the application of water to roads to keep them in good condition.

The refilling process is also completely automated with the water trucks recognising when it is time to refill, prompting them to self-drive to the water stand, park and top-up before returning to the field. They boast a 160,000-litre tank capacity, a 33 per cent increase on Rio Tinto’s largest water truck which has a tank capacity of 120,000-litres.

Rio Tinto is expanding its Autonomous Haulage System

Once deployed, the water trucks will be integrated into Rio Tinto’s existing Autonomous Haulage System which has been shown to significantly improve safety by reducing the risks associated with operators working around heavy machinery.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott commented: “We have worked closely with Caterpillar to safely and successfully deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water truck. Water spraying is a vital part of mining operations and this new technology will improve productivity and reduce water usage across our operations.

“The continued expansion of our autonomous fleet helps improve safety and continues Rio Tinto’s efforts to adopt world-leading technology to enhance our operations and realise our vision of making Gudai-Darri one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines.”

Caterpillar Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson added: “We are pleased to work with Rio Tinto to introduce the next innovation in mining automation. Rio continues to pioneer technology advancements and the water truck, working in conjunction with the autonomous hauling trucks and drills, will further accelerate Rio Tinto’s site performance. This is another important step in our continual journey in autonomous solutions for our customers.”

Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri iron ore operation on track for annual production of 43 million tonnes

Gudai-Darri is 100 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, is located approximately 35 kilometres north-west of Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine site, and about 110 kilometres from the town of Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Construction continues to progress with production ramp-up on track for early 2022. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio Tinto’s flagship iron ore product.

Rio Tinto’s relationship with Caterpillar extends over 50 years. Caterpillar was founded in 1925 and is an industry leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines as well as gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

 

Caterpillar 777G water truck

Caterpillar, Rio Tinto

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
ELYSIS
Decarbonisation
Alcoa
3 min
ELYSIS
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.

 

Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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