3ME looks to scale-up Bladevolt battery system tech following A$20m investments from CEFC, AGBF

3ME Technology has completed a A$20 million ($14.6 million) capital raise with the CEFC and the Australian Business Growth Fund (AGBF) that will allow the company to scale-up production of its modular and scalable battery systems.

The CEFC, on behalf of the Australian Government, has pledged A$5 million of investment in 3ME, with the remainder coming from the AGBF.

The investment, the CEFC says, will enable miners to replace diesel engines with cutting-edge battery electric systems, reducing their emissions and supporting safer, more efficient mine operations.

Based in the Hunter region of New South Wales, 3ME’s battery systems have featured in Safescape’s Bortana EV and, more recently, in the TRITEV Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader running at Aeris Resources Tritton copper operations in the state.

Its Bladevolt battery technology, the CEFC says, allows remote performance monitoring and control of battery pack cells, and is modular and powerful enough to transform a 20-t loader – such as the TRITEV – into a fully electric-powered vehicle.

Earlier this year, 3ME confirmed a circa-A$140 million deal had been agreed between it and Batt Mobile Equipment (BME). The pact between the two companies, which worked on the development of the TRITEV, would see 3ME supply BME with upwards of 150 electric vehicle engine packages over the next five years to power BME’s 20 t Integrated Tool Carrier battery-electric vehicle retrofits.

On the recent funding agreement, CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: “The decarbonisation of Australia’s resources sector is critical to our clean energy transition and electrification has an important part to play. Mining vehicles have unique needs and 3ME Technology’s battery system is a purpose-built solution that will enable the sector to capture more of the benefits of clean energy.

“3ME Technology has come up with a scalable solution that replaces carbon intensive diesel engines to enable mining vehicles to be powered by clean, green energy to drive down emissions. It also provides important health and safety benefits by removing diesel emissions to improve a mine’s air quality, and its bottom line, by saving on ventilation costs.”

The electrification of mining assets over the next five years through the installation of the 3ME Technology battery systems is estimated to abate 49,000 CO2-e/y on average and about 735,000 CO2-e over the lifetime of the assets, the CEFC says.

Mining vehicles now suitable for retrofit or replacement with 3ME Technology-based electric systems include light vehicles, personnel carriers, LHDs and integrated tool carriers. With a domestic market size of about 7,000 diesel vehicles operating in more than 400 mines across Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, there is a significant potential market for 3ME Technology’s systems, according to the CEFC.

3ME Technology, CEO Justin Bain, said: “In developing the Bladevolt battery system, our focus has been on meeting the very high safety and operating demands of heavy vehicles used in Australia’s resources sector. With that challenge solved, and the investment backing of the CEFC, we are ready to scale up production and help the mining industry deliver better performance through lower emissions and improved operator safety.”

CEFC Executive Director, Western Australia and Resources, Rob Wilson said: “Electrifying mining fleet vehicles is not just good for sustainability, it makes good business sense for mines in terms of operations, health, energy efficiency and information optimisation.

“A growing interest in clean supply chains means manufacturers are increasingly preferencing low carbon materials from suppliers. Replacing diesel engines with electric technology enables suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of their mobile and transport equipment.”

The CEFC invests to reduce carbon emissions across the Australian economy, including in the resources and industrial sectors. It has supported the evolution of new industry sectors related to the clean energy transition, and also invests in established producers to improve sustainability in mining through energy efficient equipment, low emissions transport and renewable energy. CEFC resource sector investments include financing a 10 MW solar plant and 6 MW battery at the DeGrussa copper-gold Mine, investing in the renewable supply chain to help Pilbara Minerals meet growing demand for lithium and supporting the establishment of a low emissions fertiliser industry with SO4 Limited.

The 3ME Technology investment aligns with the Australian Government Low Emissions Technology Statement by using emerging technologies to support emissions reduction from primary industries, it says.

The transaction is the first investment by ABGF, which was established to provide patient growth capital to Australian SMEs as a public-private partnership between the Australian Government, ANZ, NAB, CBA, Westpac, Macquarie, and HSBC.