Caterpillar to automate US copper mine fleet

Staff reporter

Construction and mining machinery major Caterpillar saw increased September-quarter sales revenues across its core divisions, mainly on the back of higher product prices. Total revenues for the first nine months of 2023 are trending well above last year at US$49.99 billion.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed Caterpillar said 2023 Q3 revenues were 12% higher year-on-year at $16.8 billion. Construction contributed a 12% yoy Q3 increase to $6.999b; mining was up 9% at $3.351b; and energy and transportation beat last year’s mark by 11% for $6.859b of sales.

Higher pricing and volumes, and a favourable geographic sales mix, offset increased manufacturing and sales and admin costs to drive Q3 operating profit up 42% yoy to $3.449b.

“I’d like to thank our global team for delivering another great quarter, as demonstrated by double-digit top-line growth, strong adjusted operating profit margin and robust ME&T [machinery, energy and transportation] free cash flow,” Caterpillar CEO and chairman Jim Umpleby said.

Meanwhile, the company said this week it had received an order to convert 33 ultra-class diesel haul trucks at copper major Freeport-McMoRan’s Bagdad porphyry copper mine in Arizona, USA, to autonomous operation.

Freeport-McMoRan president Kathleen Quirk said the three-year conversion to make Bagdad the country’s copper mine with a fully autonomous truck haulage system was expected to improve safety and drive fleet optimisation.

It was also expected to cut carbon emissions through better fleet utilisation and “position us to capitalise on future technological advancements in electrification”, Quirk said.

Caterpillar says over the past 10 years about 620 of its autonomous trucks have hauled more than 6.3 billion tonnes of material and travelled over 230 million kilometres for 15 customers on three continents without causing any reported injuries.

Bagdad produces 4.1 tonnes of copper cathode per annum.


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