Escondida goes big, moves to renew entire fleet

BHP, owner of the Escondida copper operation in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile, is collaborating with Caterpillar and Finning International to replace Escondida’s entire haul truck fleet.

Under the agreement, which the group jointly confirmed is part of a strategic equipment renewal process developed by Escondida, the mine will take delivery of new Caterpillar 798 AC electric-drive trucks with technology that will offer significant improvements in the mine’s material-moving capacity, efficiency, reliability and safety.

No financial details for the transaction were disclosed.

The new fleet will also aid in its decarbonization goals as well as diversity and inclusion, autonomous technologies and the development of local capabilities.

The initial replacements for the current fleet, which is now made up of more than 160 haul trucks, are expected to arrive at the mine site in the second half of 2023.

The balance of the trucks will be delivered over the coming 10 years, giving an all-new face to one of the world’s largest mining fleets.

The companies added that Finning´s Integrated Knowledge Center, located in Antofagasta, will provide top-of-the-line industry technical support for the fleet. 

“The agreement also allows Escondida [and] BHP to accelerate the implementation of its autonomy plans by transitioning the fleet to include technology that enables autonomous operation,” the group said. “In addition, the agreements set forth a technological path that helps Escondida [and] BHP meet its decarbonization goals, through the progressive implementation of zero-emission trucks.”

“This…will allow us to generate significant efficiencies at the operational level, but it is also in line with some of the main challenges that drive us as a company: innovation for the future of mining, decarbonization and development of capabilities in Antofagasta´s community,” Escondida president James Whittaker said.

Added Caterpillar resource industries group president Denise Johnson: “The Caterpillar team is excited to support the successful deployment of machines and technology that will facilitate a step-function improvement in BHP’s operational excellence. We applaud BHP as this mine site transformation accelerates the delivery of their aggressive sustainability targets.”

In all, BHP has more than 90 locations around the world mining copper, nickel, potash iron ore and metallurgical coal.

Sources:, and Finning International

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