At the Mikheevsky Mining and Processing Plant (JSC Mikheevsky GOK, Chelyabinsk Region, part of the Russian Copper Company Group or RMK), a project was recently launched to equip mining dump trucks with equipment for running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel. This was announced by the President of RMK Vsevolod Levin on July 21 during a working trip of the Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region Alexei Teksler to the Varna region.
In total, twelve 186 t Komatsu 730E dump trucks have been equipped with dual fuel equipment, specifically the EVO MT-7300 conversion package from GFS Corp. These were installed by local Komatsu dealer, ISTK which was also the distributor for GFS on this project.
As a result of the conversion, the trucks are able to work simultaneously on two types of fuel – diesel and LNG. Due to their combination, it will be possible to reduce diesel fuel consumption by 40% without losing the power of the equipment. In addition to reducing costs, this will reduce the exhaust emissions of the dump trucks. When burned, liquefied natural gas does not emit solid particles or sulphur compounds. In addition, it produces less carbon monoxide than other conventional fuels.
In addition to an additional tank for liquefied gas, the equipment set includes fuel mixers and controllers, as well as additional control loops. The innovation also requires updating of the dump truck software. At the same time, a special gas filling station is being built at Mikheevsky GOK for the operation of the updated equipment. It will consist of two mobile tanks with a total volume of 47 cubic metres. This will make it possible to quickly refuel dump trucks with gas directly in the pit.
Before launching the project, specialists from Mikheevsky GOK studied the experience of foreign colleagues. To do this, they visited the La Herradura gold mine in Mexico that uses an LNG-diesel hybrid mining truck fleet (Caterpillar 785 and 793 equipped with Cat’s Dynamic Gas Blending technology), and also got acquainted with similar solutions at mining enterprises in Canada and the US. The decision to switch all mining equipment at the Mikheevsky GOK to gas engine fuel will now be made based on the results of operating the dual-fuel system on mining dump trucks.