Ampcontrol helping Australian underground mines reduce emissions through both battery retrofits and its all new electric vehicle

Ampcontrol is a key industry player looking to introduce zero emission vehicles to underground mines by converting existing personnel transporters such as Driftrunners and Minecruisers used in many underground mines throughout Australia. By upgrading and retrofitting the existing fleet, Ampcontrol’s approach removes the diesel engine and transmission and retrofits the vehicle with an electric driveline.

With fast charging capabilities, the electric vehicles will be Intrinsically Safe certified for use in underground coal mines, directly addressing the growing concern around the health impacts caused by diesel particulate matter in confined spaces, it says. Back in 2020, New South Wales was the first jurisdiction in Australia to implement legislation around the exposure standard of 0.1 mg/cu.m for diesel particulate matter, measured as elemental carbon, in mines.

While there are many options for reducing the diesel emissions from mobile equipment underground with a range of bolt-on reduction technologies, Ampcontrol says its zero-emission option enables operations to eliminate negative environmental impacts associated with the operation of diesel-powered equipment while simultaneously capturing additional efficiencies.

Now in the advanced stages of development, Ampcontrol has also designed a new underground vehicle that produces less heat, is more powerful than its traditional diesel predecessor and reduces the running and maintenance costs associated with traditional diesel vehicles, the company claims. The 60 kWh liquid-cooled traction battery is designed to be intrinsically safe, while lightweight explosion-protected equipment enclosures and intrinsically-safe lighting add to the flexibility of operation offered by the new vehicle, it says. The first fully certified vehicle should be ready to hit the market at the end of 2021, but a prototype personnel carrier vehicle for underground mining applications was recently unveiled at its Newcastle facility during the Federal Government’s A$1.5 billion ($1.14 billion) Modern Manufacturing Strategy grant launch.

In other innovations, Ampcontrol has introduced the Burn Brite IS LEDi, a next generation longwall lighting system. “This Bluetooth connected system allows programmable lighting sequences, such as colour change and flashing, for operation and safety communication. Supporting the move towards autonomous operations, the IS LEDi not only provides general longwall illumination, but incorporates warning functionalities, identifying machinery movements and any potential risks to personnel.”