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ICSV: A nature positive approach

Mining plays a crucial role in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions by supplying the minerals and metals necessary for renewable energy technologies, clean transportation, and sustainable infrastructure.

Mining plays a crucial role in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions by supplying the minerals and metals necessary for renewable energy technologies, clean transportation, and sustainable infrastructure. 

Importantly, ICMM members have pledged that this transition must not be at the expense of nature. They are committed to helping create a nature positive future.  

To achieve this, every aspect of every mining operation must be examined, including an estimated 28,000 large surface-mining haul trucks. Haul trucks are enormous vehicles used to transport ore, waste rock and other materials. The challenge of decarbonisation is complex but pressing as their numbers are rising and their CO2 emissions could soon be equivalent to over 15 million passenger cars. 

In tackling the emissions of vehicles, member companies are limiting a major direct source of greenhouse gases and air pollutants at the mine site. This doesn’t just support efforts to halt and reverse climate change, but the strong links between climate and nature means that reducing these emissions also supports a nature positive approach. 

The ICSV initiative 

Launched in 2018, the ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative is a collaboration that brings together ICMM mining companies, original equipment manufacturers and diesel haul truck specialists, to accelerate the trialling and adoption of zero-emission haul trucks. 

Progress is being made in trialling electric and hydrogen fuelled trucks at surface mining operations.

However, the challenges are considerable when it comes to scaling up, particularly in the need to increase the supply of green fuel.  

In 2023, 30 billion litres of diesel were used globally by large haul mining trucks. Replacing that with low carbon electricity would require an amount equivalent to 70 per cent of Australia’s annual demand.

Alternatively, switching to green hydrogen would need enough water to fill around 28,000 Olympic-size swimming pools annually – a critical issue in regions where water is not abundantly available. 

Clearly, the infrastructure to support the move to zero carbon haul trucks needs to improve. ICMM members are collaborating with governments, regional authorities and financiers to enhance green fuel capacity, so that emissions from the mines are not simply moved elsewhere. 

Moving at speed 

ICMM members have already set up several collaborations to pilot breakthrough solutions at sites with the right conditions for implementation. 

This partnership approach is accelerating the finding of solutions to the technical challenges of reducing the emissions of surface mining haul trucks.  

In fact, ICMM now expects that zero-emission haul trucks will be available at scale on sites before 2030 rather than by 2040, which itself had been considered an ambitious target. 

A range of solutions 

As with electric passenger cars, the shift from fossil fuel to full zero-emission haul trucks will not be made in a single leap. 

At present, mining companies have several options, including hybrid vehicles, electrified overhead trolley systems to lower diesel consumption on sites, alternative fuels such as hydrogen, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), and biodiesel and retrofitting their current fleet of haul trucks with low-carbon powertrains. 

The choice comes down to the specific requirements of the site but there is also a need to look to the future, to make interoperability with coming technologies a feature rather than a problem. 

The ICSV initiative is focusing heavily on interoperability across machine and charging systems. This will lead to power systems being suitable for all equipment, irrespective of manufacturer, and simplify and accelerate the adoption of low-carbon solutions.  

Unlocking opportunities 

Transforming a global fleet of 28,000 diesel-powered haul trucks into zero-emission vehicles is an incredible challenge. But ICMM members, in collaboration with manufacturers, researchers and financial institutions, are making remarkably rapid progress. 

The leadership shown by those involved in the ICSV Initiative will not only speed up the decarbonisation of haul trucks but will also model mechanisms and solutions for other industries around the world, helping them accelerate their own net zero journeys. 

Download the full ICSV Initiative briefing here