June 2 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.L) said on Friday it has converted trucks and other heavy equipment at its California mine to run on renewable diesel, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 45,000 tonnes per year, or roughly the equivalent of 9,600 cars.

The move comes as many of the world's mining companies push to lower their emissions in the production of copper, lithium and other metals that power the green energy transition.

Rio is buying the renewable diesel from Finland's Neste (NESTE.HE), which will produce the fuel from used cooking oil and animal fat waste.

Rio, which piloted use of the fuel last year with trucks from Rolls-Royce (RR.L), said tests show that its vehicles running on renewable diesel operate similarly to those running on conventional diesel.

Rio said it moved to renewable diesel because fully electric mining equipment is not yet commercially available.

The company has produced borates - a group of minerals used to make soaps, cosmetics, fertilizers and other goods - for nearly a century at its open-pit Boron, California, mine in the Mojave Desert, about 120 miles (195 km) north of Los Angeles.

The company produced roughly 530,000 tonnes of boric acid in 2022 at the California mine, roughly a third of global supply.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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