BHP tests Toyota EVs at Nickel West

BHP Nickel West (Image: Courtesy of BHP)

BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP), the world’s largest miner, has partnered with Toyota Australia to trial a new light electric vehicle (LEV) at the Nickel West mine in Western Australia.

The companies will test a LandCruiser 70, converted from running on diesel to fully electric via onboard battery power, both on surface and underground settings.

BHP Minerals Australia president, Edgar Basto, said the partnership is part of ongoing studies into how the company can reduce emissions from its light vehicle fleet.

“It builds on other LEV trials underway in South Australia and Queensland. Reducing our reliance on diesel at our operations will help achieve our medium-term target of reducing operational emissions by 30% by 2030.”

BHP asset president, Nickel West, Eddy Haegel also expects the company to reduce its fuel and maintenance costs, as well as noise, heat and diesel particulate matter through the use of LEV.

“The battery in the Toyota EV LandCruiser also contains a high proportion of nickel,” Haegel noted, adding that BHP has maintained a strong relationship with Toyota for the last 20 years.

The mining giant kicked off in 2018 underground electrification trials at is Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine in South Australia, as well as at the Broadmeadow coal mine, in Queensland.

Zero emissions goals

BHP, which is also one of the biggest carbon emitters, has focused in the past four years on using cleaner forms of power supply as it aims to reach net zero operational emissions by 2050.

The company has also said it would bring those emissions below fiscal 2017 levels by the 2022 financial year.

study published in May last year showed that eight of the world’s top ten largest mining companies were not doing enough to help keep global temperatures from increasing by less than 2°C a year by 2050.

The main void in top miners’ targets are the so-called Scope 3 emissions — those generated indirectly when consumers burn or process their oil, coal or iron ore. 

The hard-to-tackle emissions account for 95% of the mining sector’s total, according to Barclays. For BHP alone, they account for as much as 97% of the company’s overall emissions, according to Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent. 

They are also larger than Australia’s total emissions in 2019 of 532.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Better than rivals

Rivals Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) and Anglo American (LON: AAL) have yet to disclose their end-use emissions for 2019. BHP publishes a range to reflect the potential double-counting of coking coal and iron ore, the two ingredients needed to make steel. The highly polluting process is responsible for up to 9% of global greenhouse emissions.

Only Glencore (LON: GLEN) and Vale (NYSE: VALE), the world’s No. 1 iron ore producer, have set Scope 3 goals.

The Baar, Switzerland-based firm expects to cut emissions generated by its products when consumed by 30% in the next 15 years. This would partially be the result of its Colombian and South African coal mines running out of ore. Glencore  also plans to stop mining coal in the South American country by 2035.

Vale is targeting a 15% reduction in Scope 3 emissions by 2035 through the use of carbon offsets, eco-friendly shipping and partnering with its customers on low-carbon steelmaking technology.

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