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Global mining sector returns to Vegas

Komatsu shows value made with mining partners at MINExpo Metal Tech News - September 15, 2021

LAS VEGAS – The machinery is enormous, and the ambitions are even larger for the global mining equipment companies unveiling the very latest technologies they have to offer at the National Mining Associations' MINExpo 2021 being held from Sept. 13-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Held every four years, with the current exception of a one-year delay in 2020 due to COVID-19, the MINExpo is hailed as the largest mining event on Earth.

Considering the fascinating advancements in mining technologies and the growing awareness of the minerals and metals that will be required for a world poised to make a rapid transition to low-carbon energy and transportation, the scheduling setback is actually a blessing in disguise.

Even more so than a year ago, the global mining sector is looking for more efficient, sustainable, and safer ways to extract the increasingly vast quantities of raw materials for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and high-tech devices.

And the roughly 1,100 exhibitors are offering the very latest products, services, and technologies to make these ambitions a reality.

"MINExpo provides the perfect opportunity for industry leaders to collaborate on new ways to extract essential minerals at this critical time for our society," said Jeff Dawes, president and CEO of Komatsu Mining Corp. and chairperson of MINExpo 2021.

Matching the scale and scope of MINExpo, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Sandvik, and other manufacturers of massive mining equipment dominated roughly 200,000 square feet of Central Hall, one of four exhibit areas packed with companies representing a broad spectrum of the global mining sector.

"There are 10 football fields worth of exhibitors and truly cutting-edge equipment at this year's show, but it's the people that make it so special," Dawes said during a Sept. 13 MINExpo opening ceremony. "These are the people making mining safer, smarter, and more efficient than ever before."

Enormous exhibit, equipment

With the top executive of Komatsu's mining division chairing MINExpo 2021, you would expect the Japan-based heavy equipment company to have a major presence at the largest mining show on Earth – and they do.

At 48,000 square feet, Komatsu's enormous exhibit covers the equivalent of one football field in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Focused on the theme "creating value together," Komatsu's enormous presence at MINExpo highlights the scalable and sustainable mining solutions the mining equipment manufacturer is developing in partnership with global mining companies.

"Supporting our customers' path forward with new solutions that leverage digitalization, electrification, and automation is crucial to our role as an essential provider to the industry, and we look forward to sharing these innovations developed in partnership with today's mines," said Dawes.

Many of Komatsu's latest equipment concepts, designed to meet the mining sector's desire for lower emissions and autonomous operations, are on full display at MINExpo.

This includes the company's power-agnostic mine truck that can be fueled by an array of power sources, such as diesel-electric, electric, trolly (wired), battery power, and hydrogen fuel cells.

This is one of the ideas being advanced by the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas Alliance, a recently formed collaboration of global mining companies working alongside Komatsu to rapidly develop carbon emissions reduction solutions for the mining sector.

Rio Tinto Group, one of the founding members of this alliance, has offered up a mine site for testing Komatsu haulage concepts.

"Our support of a trial, and the option to buy some of the first trucks from Komatsu, underscores our shared commitment to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure as we look to decarbonize our business," said Rio Tinto COO Alf Barrios.

Frontrunner autonomy

In addition to equipment underscoring Komatsu's progress on meeting its "target of reducing CO2 emissions from our products by 50% by 2030," the Japanese equipment manufacturer's huge MINExpo booth provides attendees with a look at seemingly futuristic capabilities it has already developed and are being implemented by its mining customers.

In fact, mining companies have now hauled more than four billion metric tons of materials leveraging Komatsu's FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System. But, maybe more impressive and definitely more important, this massive amount of material has been hauled with zero system-related injuries over the course of 14 years.

Komatsu has more than 400 trucks commissioned with its autonomous system at 13 mine sites on three continents.

"Our customers' continued investment in the technology and equipment to transition to autonomous haulage supports the evolution of mining methods and opportunity for advancements in safety and production," said Komatsu Vice President of Autonomous Systems Anthony Cook.

With a continued focus on removing people from harm's way, Komatsu Sept. 13 introduced an autonomous concept version of its enormous Komatsu HD785-7 water truck. On display at MINExpo, this giant concept vehicle can both autonomously move about a mine site and deliver water through the same platform.

After being run through its paces at a facility in Arizona and undergoing further testing at an active mining operation, Komatsu plans to have the HD785-based autonomous water truck ready for commercial sale next year.

In addition to technologies at work in mines around the globe and concepts ready to join them in the next few months, Komatsu's MINExpo exhibit provides a glimpse of truly futuristic sustainable mining technologies the equipment maker is developing in partnership with its global mining customers.

"Future generations are using virtual reality, simulation, and virtualization tools to work in new ways; and make advanced decisions before any material is moved. By understanding the needs of society, applying 100 years of mining industry experience, and collaborating to continuously innovate, we are working towards that sustainable future – creating value together," Komatsu informed a crowd gathered at its exhibit.

Working together toward a more sustainable future is a theme that is being echoed across MINExpo International 2021, an event that covers the entire breadth of the global mining sector – exploration, mine development, open pit and underground mining, processing, safety, environmental improvement, and much more.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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