In the just filed NI 43-101 Technical Feasibility Study Report for the Matawinie graphite mine in Quebec, NMG has given further details on its roadmap towards introduction of a zero emissions machine fleet. First, NMG says it is evaluating fully electrified surface drill rigs for mining operations. A recently concluded study and concept review from a major OEM identified an electric equivalent production drill, capable of drilling production and pre–sheer holes; the model is currently available as a diesel vehicle. Based on the initial discussion, it is possible to receive a first prototype as early as 2023.
The study also states that the National Research Council has funded a project to analyse the performance of a battery electric truck prototype that will be tested and implemented at the NMG mine site. The purpose of the study was to address the gaps in public evidence and preconceptions relating to the electrification of mining vehicles, particularly those for open–pit operations. The study aims to estimate energy and power demands using route–demand simulations of the prototype under various terrain conditions and route profiles.
The results of the report are intended to provide an estimate of the energy demands for the operation at the NMG site and highlight the sensitivity of the results to different environmental and operational factors. The simulation results demonstrate that the operation of electric vehicles in the mining environment is extremely energy intensive, with peak shift demands averaging between 675 kWh and 710 kWh. The use of regenerative braking was demonstrated to reduce energy demands on average by approximately 5% in simulations.
The two environmental factors having the greatest impact on energy demand were found to be rolling resistance and the load of the vehicle. NMG says the results provide valuable insight into optimising the design of the mine site, such as aligning high payload driving intervals with downhill road sections where regen braking can be maximised. The simulations also indicate that energy demands correlate linearly with the rolling resistance factor of the road, implying the importance of road maintenance for energy efficiency of electric vehicles. The next stage of the project will be to perform on–site testing in 2022. The objective of these tests will be to verify modelling results and perform additional sensitivity analysis with respect to rolling resistance and maximum speed and inform how mine routes should be adjusted.
On actual electric fleet introduction, the NMG plans by the end of the first five consecutive year period after the start date of the commercial operation of the Matawinie Mine the replacement of its then–existing diesel fleet of construction and mining machines and equipment, with construction and mining machines and other equipment that operate with zero emissions of greenhouse gas (Zero Emission Machines).
NMG Matawinie base case diesel fleet to be replaced by electric fleet within five years
In June, 2021, NMG entered into of a collaboration agreement with Caterpillar Inc under which Caterpillar Inc will develop, test, and produce Cat® “zero–emission machines” for the Phase 2 Matawinie Mine, with a view to becoming the exclusive supplier of an all–electric mining fleet for deployment at the Phase 2 Matawinie Mine five years after the mine start–up.