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“We offer our mines in Brazil as testing grounds”

Brazilian mining giant Vale is acquiring massive trucks from Caterpillar with a surprising twist: They’re all electric.

According to data collector Statista, Vale is a $4.5 billion company that mines a variety of elements, including nickel, copper and manganese, needed for modern technology.

In 2021, the company announced that it had sold its coal stocks. The purchase of the 240-ton capacity electric trucks is also part of the company’s efforts to operate more cleanly in the coming decades.

First of all, Vale’s ambitious plan is to reduce pollution by 33% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

“We are developing a portfolio of options to decarbonize Vale’s activities, including electrification and the use of alternative fuels in the mines. The most viable solutions will be adopted,” said Ludmila Nascimento, Vale’s Energy and Decarbonization Director, in a press release.

Adding ethanol to the fuel mix for other equipment is also part of the strategy to reduce diesel pollution, which Vale says accounts for 15 percent of air pollution.

Watch now: Honda shows how the company is reinventing electric vehicles from the ground up with exciting new concept cars

Caterpillar unveiled an electric heavy-duty truck in 2022. It is said to be about the size of a two-story building and weigh more than a blue whale. The tires alone are as big as most vehicles. The colossal vehicle is being tested at Vale’s site in Minas Gerais.

The news marks an interesting intersection of interests. Mining lithium and other elements needed for batteries – some of which, ironically, are mined by Vale – can be an invasive and dirty process. However, electric vehicles are cleaner than dirty fuel alternatives, even with current mining methods.

Japanese company Komatsu is another company offering large electric machines to the sector. The company recently made headlines with its electric jumbo drill and roof anchor device. It’s an exciting look at the next wave of electric vehicle technology and how it can impact even huge jobs.

Many companies make climate-related promises, often as standard promises, with benchmarks for 2030 and 2050. In some cases, the reality falls short of expectations. Educating yourself on how companies are achieving their sustainability goals can help prevent greenwashing and ensure they meet the target.

If the cleaner measures are successful, they can provide fresher air and healthier breathing. Diesel exhaust fumes can be harmful when inhaled, especially for people with asthma and heart or lung disease, according to health experts.

Vale itself announced in 2020 that the company would invest up to $6 billion in environmentally friendly measures. The partnership between Vale and Caterpillar could be an important endorsement for electric heavy equipment.

“There have been significant advances in the development of electric truck technology in recent years, and these innovations will play an important role in bringing our net emissions to zero by 2050,” said José Baltazar, Vale’s technical director for mine and plant operations, in the press release. “We offer our mines in Brazil, with their very specific characteristics, as a testing ground to help achieve our goals and build a cleaner mining industry.”

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