Back in June 2021, Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM) and ABB announced that they were collaborating on an all-battery electric mining truck, which would draw the power it needed for operations from an overhead trolley catenary line while simultaneously charging the on-board energy storage system based on ABB high power and long-life battery technology.
Then in March 2023, HCM and First Quantum announced that the Kansanshi copper mine in Zambia would be the proof of concept location – it is ideally suited to these trials due to its existing trolley assist systems, which align with development of battery dump trucks. The mine already has 41 HCM trolley trucks.
IM can reveal that the new truck is now nearing completion. HCM in Japan told IM: “Hitachi Construction Machinery will supply the first of its full battery, rigid frame dump trucks fitted with an ABB Ltd battery, on-board charger and associated infrastructure around the middle of 2024 for technological feasibility trials at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper-gold mine operations.”
It added that the trial deployment will coincide with the ramp up of Kansanshi’s S3 expansion which is projected for commissioning and first production in 2025. HCM added that it is currently testing the basic operation of the battery system and the auxiliary operation of the hydraulic equipment and pantograph at the Hitachinaka-Rinko factory in Japan. Hitachi also has the ability to test trolley trucks at its Urahoro testing facility in Japan. The actual all battery truck class has not yet been revealed.
Applying a proven technology from its current trolley truck system to the battery dump truck has allowed Hitachi Construction Machinery to expedite the development of its product to market. The retrofittable system design is also an added advantage, allowing current diesel truck fleets to be converted in the future to utilise the battery system, offering scalable fleet capability, minimal operational impact and greater value for customers such as First Quantum.
First Quantum’s existing fleet of Hitachi Construction Machinery equipment includes 39 EH3500ACII and two EH3500AC-3 rigid dump trucks across its mining operations in Zambia, as well as several construction-sized machinery across global operations. A further 40 EH4000AC-3 dump trucks equipped with the latest HCM/Bradken robust tray designs are in the process of delivery to Kansanshi, to support the S3 expansion project as it is scaled up. The first new Hitachi EH4000 (number RD170) dump truck was commissioned in September 2023. Six new EX5600-7E (electric) excavators equipped with Bradken Eclipse buckets and incorporating loss tooth detection technology are also being supplied.
The S3 Expansion, when completed, will comprise of a standalone 25 Mt/y processing plant with a new larger mining fleet that will increase Kansanshi’s total annual throughput to 53 Mt/y. Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine to 2044.