Electric mining service vehicle for the open-pit mining industry: Test phase starts in summer 2022

The Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI), Propulsion Québec, and the partners of the electric mining vehicle (EMV) project – Adria Power Systems, Dana TM4, L. Fournier et Fils, Nouveau Monde Graphite, CanmetMINING, Natural Resources Canada and National Research Council Canada (NRCC) – have announced the start of a nine-month test phase of an open-pit mining vehicle and its infrastructure, starting in summer 2022 at the Nouveau Monde Graphite mine in Saint-Michel-des-Saints.

The EMV project, announced in November 2020, consists of developing a new electric propulsion system and fast charging infrastructure suitable for heavy vehicles in the open-pit mining industry. It was made possible by a C$2 million investment through Natural Resource Canada’s Clean Growth Program and the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation’s Innov-R program, administered by InnovÉÉ. The project, which also received funding from Société du Plan Nord, marks a major turning point in the electrification of heavy vehicles in North America.

This new phase of the EMV project will test a 40 t Western Star 6900XD truck under real conditions in various operating contexts related to mining industry needs. The engine and components have been replaced and adapted for electrification, and charging infrastructure with an impressive 1 MW capacity has been developed to power it. The test phase will run from July 2022 to March 2023 in order to subject the service vehicle and its infrastructure to different weather conditions. The goal is to refine the technology and test the efficiency of the various components (including the battery) with a view to commercialising an efficient 100% electric technological solution that meets the needs of the open-pit mining industry at lower cost and can be adapted to other types of heavy vehicles.

The Innovative Vehicle Institute will oversee the test phase in collaboration with the Nouveau Monde Graphite team, which will coordinate operations in the field. The results will be the subject of a report on the findings and the lessons learned.

“Propulsion Québec is very proud of all the work accomplished by the team and partners of the EMV project since it was announced in November 2020. After 18 months of intensive research, development, and experimentation, the vehicle, its components, and its infrastructure are ready to be tested in Saint-Michel-des-Saints and to demonstrate their effectiveness in reducing GHGs from open-pit mines in Quebec and Canada, which are still too dependent on fossil fuels to power this type of heavy vehicle. The test phase is part of a collective approach to the energy transition of y ground transportation and will shape the future of this industry over the next few years,” comments Sarah Houde, CEO, Propulsion Québec.

“Now that the prototype is completed, we have to test it. We are very excited to be supervising the upcoming test phase of the electric mining truck and its charging infrastructure in real operating conditions at the Nouveau Monde Graphite mine. It will allow us to assess the truck’s performance and confirm whether our simulations of this complex environment were accurate or whether we need to make some changes to take into account our partner’s real needs. This is what we call the ‛agile development process.’ It’s a development cycle closely aligned with the reality of innovation and reminds us of the essence of our mission to create, test, adapt, and improve,” stated François Adam, General Manager, Innovative Vehicle Institute.

“Congratulations to Propulsion Québec and its partners for reaching the trial phase in their electric mining vehicle project, which represents a big step towards the reduction of GHG emissions for open-pit mines. Innovation in the mining sector, such as vehicle electrification, is helping us meet our ambitious climate goals, including reaching net-zero by 2050,” said
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources of Canada.

“We are in the process of building a full value chain in Quebec, from mining to battery production and the marketing of commercial vehicles. This new electric mining vehicle will help us decarbonise this key sector and extract minerals to make batteries with a smaller carbon footprint,” commented Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation, and Minister Responsible for Regional Economic Development.

Quebec is known internationally for its leading expertise and its mining industry that abides by the highest environmental standards. Although it contributes to the early stages of producing minerals needed to make green technology, this sector must step up its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. This new electric mining vehicle is an innovative solution for the heavy transportation sector,” stated Jonatan Julien, Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region, and Minister Responsible for the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine Region.

“Our government is calling for the electrification of all modes of transportation—cars, buses, taxis, trains, and trucks—to meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec. With the development of this all-electric mining vehicle, the partners are showing that any type of vehicle can be electrified. Their project marks a major turning point in the development of a lower-carbon mining industry, as required by the ongoing climate emergency. We are pleased to lend our support,” said Benoît Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change of Quebec, Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism, and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region.