Chilean state-owned copper mining company Codelco has started trials of Epiroc’s fully electric loader at its El Teniente copper mine, reported Reuters.

The new 14t loading shovel is said to be a first for South America and features rechargeable batteries.

Codelco plans to test the shovel in the key Chilean copper mine for a period of one year.

During the trial, the new system is expected to save greenhouse gas emissions by 433t and diesel usage by 160,000l. It is also anticipated to reduce noise, as well as 60% of maintenance costs.

Codelco CEO Andre Sougarret was quoted as saying by the news agency during the project’s launch: “We hope there will be more autonomy [with batteries] which can allow us to reach the levels of productivity achieved with conventional technology.”

Located 80km south of Santiago in the Andes mountain range in Chile, the El Teniente mine reported 459,817 metric tonnes of copper production in 2021.

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Earlier this year, Codelco launched a fleet of electric buses for workers at the El Teniente mine. The move comes three years after the commissioning of the world’s first hybrid cargo truck at the site.

By 2030, Codelco aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70%.

Earlier this year, Codelco selected engineering group Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions to deliver its AutoMine load and haul automation system for the El Teniente mine.

Sandvik was also chosen to provide load and haul equipment to Codelco.