Recent Automotive Innovations in the Mining Sector

With the growing concern for our future as the human race with regards to climate change and global warming, most people are more conscious about their carbon footprint. Many countries are moving towards cleaner sources of energy with countries like Germany, having adopted plug in hybrids and all electric vehicles. Fossil fuels produce significant amounts of energy per unit mass which is good for efficiency but are also one of the leading causes of air pollution. The biggest source of fossil fuels is the mining industry.

The latest automotive advances coupled with technology have made it possible for companies like Tesla to manufacture electric cars. Despite the lack of more companies making electric car versions, the mining industry should do the same, in order to reduce its carbon footprint.


Electrification refers to the processes are powered using electricity, together with the introduction of such power by changing over from an earlier power source. According to some reports, the sales of electric cars reached 2.1 million globally in 2019, with the number expected to rise to 8.5 million by the year 2025. By the year 2040, 54 million in electric vehicles sales is predicted. However, this year, the number is expected to drop before it rises once more as battery prices fall, energy density improves, more charging infrastructure is built and sales spread to new markets.

For electric vehicles to run, lithium-ion batteries are needed. The increase in demand for lithium has resulted in the price of batteries dropping by 80%. As electric vehicles gain more traction, the price is expected to reduce further. Advances made to the lithium-ion batteries with regards to its energy, range and power capability of lithium-ion batteries will lead to further price drops, consequently making the technology more feasible.

In addition, electric vehicles are better for the environment as they do not release harmful substances and gases such as nitrogen oxide, as compared to diesel engines. Long-term exposure to these harmful compounds can cause breathing difficulties which result in various health complications. These conditions are aggravated in enclosed and underground spaces such as mines. Electric vehicles are therefore, safe for the health of workers as well as the environment.


A self-driving car is capable of recognizing its environment and moving safely with little or no human input. There is an obvious shift in the automotive industry towards autonomous vehicles, with many companies, including Argo, Aurora and Pony in the process of fully developing self- driving cars. Firms are focusing on automated vehicles that operate within very specific geographical areas or weather conditions as well as those that can operate under any conditions.

Self-driving vehicles would improve the safety of people because of the lack of or reduction in road accidents. Furthermore, with the introduction of autonomous mine vehicles, workers would be safe, both in terms of health and also from fatal accidents.

Mining processes

Despite the many pros electric vehicles bring to the table, it has cons of its own. Components required to build a vehicle like steel, are provided by the mining industry. Electric vehicles will increase the demand for certain minerals, like cobalt as well as lithium of course and nickel, used for batteries and magnets.

With electrification as a way to improve the general state of our environments, the demand for key minerals grows each passing day. To effectively and efficiently meet demand, the mining industry may have to introduce rapid, low cost techniques which are required to decrease price and optimize extraction to increase output.

In spite of these, the electrification of mining vehicles by replacing hydraulics and diesel engines with electrics for long life, zero emission, reliability, performance and precision is a step in the right direction. It is advisable for Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) and other manufacturers of construction and mining equipment to adapt to the changing landscape.

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