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Light electric vehicles make their BHP debut

At BHP, we’re passionate about developing and deploying technologies that result in meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Our Olympic Dam site in South Australia is one of the largest underground copper mines in the world and our investment there in light electric vehicles, powered by lithium ion batteries, is good news for our people and the planet. 

In support of the Company’s environmental targets, Technology is working hand-in-hand with Assets to implement game-changing programs that firmly position BHP as an industry leader in low emissions technology.

After extensive planning, one such exciting initiative kicked off at Olympic Dam earlier this month. Our first ever light electric vehicle (or LEV) is joining the existing underground fleet of 240 light vehicles with a second expected to join the fold in the coming months.

As part of its day-to-day operations, Olympic Dam relies on a team of approximately 800 underground employees and uses diesel equipment for development, production, ore handling and mine services.

While they may look similar to a traditional Land Cruiser or ute, our LEVs are at the heart of our work on low emissions technology. Importantly, as they are battery-powered, our team’s exposure to the diesel particular matter generated by traditional diesel engines is significantly reduced.

This is all part of a broader initiative aimed at achieving a 50 per cent reduction, right across BHP, in the number of employees with potential exposure to particulate matter. Olympic Dam’s switch to LEVs in its operations will reduce emissions, exposure and costs – as well as influencing the rollout of similar initiatives in our other locations.

During the trial, we’ll collect data on the vehicles’ performance, power supply, maintenance requirements, charging time and corrosion resistance underground. A decision on wider deployment at Olympic Dam is expected to be made during in the coming financial year.