All posts by Paul Moore

Agnico Eagle 2022 Climate Action Report updates Detour trolley plans & BEV progress

Global gold miner Agnico Eagle Mines has just published its 2022 Climate Action Report, the first released in connection with its Net-Zero by 2050 emissions target. President & CEO Ammar Al-Joundi states: “Our climate reduction strategy is integrated with our business strategy and revolves around three strategic pillars: performance; pipeline; and people.”

He adds: “We will focus on what we are good at, finding technical and innovative solutions to complex problems — namely employing technology to increase our energy efficiency, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decarbonise our operations — and we will put the human and financial capital in place to align our actions with our commitments. Looking to the future, we expect that decarbonisation will be one of the key criteria through which any potential mergers or acquisitions will be made at Agnico Eagle.”

Agnico Eagle’s approach to addressing climate change has accelerated in recent years in keeping with the scale and urgency of the issue. In 2021, the Board of Directors approved Agnico Eagle’s commitment to achieve Net-Zero by 2050 and formal support of TCFD. It adds: “In 2022, we are proud to announce that a Net-Zero interim target of a 30% reduction in absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030 (based on 2021 levels) has also been approved. Our interim emissions reduction target is defined as an absolute reduction in the amount of Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHGs emitted to the atmosphere from our operations in the target year, relative to the base year.”

In line with its Net-Zero ambition, the miner conducted preliminary modelling in 2021 and 2022 to enable it to define the key actions and goals needed for its 2030 interim target and Net-Zero transition by 2050 target. “Our modelling identified three primary areas of focus across all our operations — Energy Efficiency, Technology Transition, and Increased Renewable Energy, via both Agnico Eagle developed renewable energy solutions and through the shift to increased renewables expected on our public electricity grids.”

Energy efficiency solutions focus on identifying opportunities and reducing its energy use at the site level. “We measure our Scope 1 and 2 energy and fuel consumption on a monthly basis to communicate and evaluate site-level efficiency metrics. In 2021 and 2022, we conducted decarbonisation and energy mapping workshops for each site to identify potential reduction opportunities and help define the investments required.”

Projects identified include energy management systems, heat recovery systems, ventilation-on- demand projects, increased tyre pressure monitoring and various other energy efficiency initiatives. “The initiatives identified were prioritised for investment or further study based on their potential and alignment with our climate strategy. We currently expect a potential benefit of reducing 40 ktCO2e per year by 2030 across our portfolio from energy efficiency and optimisation projects.”

Looking in more detail at Technology Transition initiatives, these categorised as technology transition projects generally focused on electrification of material handling equipment and use of alternative and more sustainable fuel types. This includes implementing trolley assist at Detour gold mine, an increase in the use of BEVs where commercially available, and substituting a portion of diesel fuel use with renewable diesel or biodiesel fuel. It currently expects a potential benefit of reducing 150 ktCO2e per year by 2030 across its portfolio from technology transition projects.

On electrification, the company stated: “In Canada, our Macassa Mine in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, has been an industry leader in the adoption and utilisation of BEVs. Starting in 2011, Macassa was an early adopter of battery electric scoops and now utilises 22 scoops and six battery electric trucks. At our Detour Lake Mine in Northeastern Ontario, we recently completed conceptual studies of an autonomous haulage system and adopting a Trolley-Assist Haulage program for our haul fleet. The Trolley-Assist program showed positive NPV and ESG impact with a potential annual carbon reductions of up to 96 ktCO2e (which can be up to nearly a third of our expected direct emissions at Detour). Our Technical Services team is currently running a prefeasibility study to help us fully understand the benefits of bringing this electrification technology to Detour Lake.”

Agnico Eagle adds: “We are also trialling two of the first Sandvik battery electric loaders operating in the world at our LaRonde Mine in Cadillac, Northwestern Quebec and our Fosterville Mine in Bendigo, in the State of Victoria, Australia. Our Kittila Mine in Northern Finland, has been a participant in the Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems project, under the European Union’s most extensive research and innovation program, Horizon 2020. Our role in the project has been to test three battery-powered mining machines, developed and manufactured by Epiroc, a Boomer E2 Battery drill rig, a MT42 Battery Minetruck and a ST14 Battery Scooptram.”

On reducing energy use at its sites, in Finland, Agnico Eagle has committed to the Energy Efficiency Agreement and the Kittilä mine team has developed energy-efficiency initiatives to reduce its overall energy needs and costs. For example, waste heat from the oxygen plant and processing activities is used to heat all of the mine site’s buildings, as well as its underground facilities. The site also automated its ventilation system to help reduce the use of liquid propane gas and electricity. “Our LaRonde complex in Quebec has introduced ventilation-on-demand at its LZ5 mine while opting for ventilation-on-planning at its LaRonde mine. While both are focused on reducing energy consumption for ventilation, the first allows for the management of underground ventilation remotely from the surface based on real-time needs, while the latter allows for the management of ventilation based on the weekly work plan. The complex also uses a heat recovery system at its new tailings filtration plant to heat the building during winter.

At the Meliadine mine in the Canadian Arctic’s Nunavut territory, Agnico Eagle relies on diesel for energy and as such, it finds creative ways to efficiently use and re-use the energy produced onsite. For example, ultra-efficient generators produce power to run the process plant and other facilities. The exhaust heat from these generators is recovered through a heat exchange system which in turn is used to heat the camp facilities and the multi-service building where the maintenance shop and most offices are located.

Sedna and Globalstar leverage terrestrial spectrum to connect & protect mines and miners in Africa

In a powerful strategic collaboration to connect and protect mining assets, improve data connectivity, and save lives, Africa-focused Industrial IT Solutions provider Sedna has partnered with telecom infrastructure  powerhouse Globalstar. 

It states: “Band 53/n53 is a mid-band licensed spectrum resource that Globalstar offers to partners and customers that otherwise would not have access. Spectrum is sorely needed for progress in Africa. In line with demand for faster and more reliable speeds, the 5G variant of Globalstar’s Band 53 is known as n53.”

“Demand for wireless data solutions from heavy industrial uses in mines is on the rise, but access to reliable always-on solutions is a challenge. Access to reliable data and connectivity is an imperative for miners and their managers, as reliance on Wi-Fi alone is not enough, while access to spectrum is a continuous challenge. Globalstar’s terrestrial spectrum offers an immediate solution and we are delighted to be joining forces with a renowned global innovator like Globalstar to bring secure, reliable and state of the art data connectivity solutions to mines across the continent,” says Anton Fester, Sedna Managing Director.

“This is an extremely important and exciting development for Africa’s mining industry, and the addition of n53 and 5G status ensures we are in lock-step with the latest digital advances and the Fourth Industrial Revolution as new networks around the world will be built utilising 5G’s advanced technology. There is already a lot of demand for these solutions as spectrum is also critical to the deployment of private LTE solutions on mines, which we are already rolling out,” he adds.

Band 53 offers partners secure and reliable connectivity in any environment and utilising the band allows customers to deploy considerably less access points than when relying on Wi-Fi, leading to superior security, performance and long-term value.

“We are excited to be working with Sedna to bring Band 53/n53 connectivity to their mining deployments in Africa and beyond. Mining is a critical endeavour for the global economy and ever more important in many of the countries in Africa where Sedna is focused. The ever changing landscape make network design difficult and the environment is dangerous adding value to automation. Private wireless networks like we can deploy with Band 53/n53 are great solutions for Sedna‘s business and the mining industry,” says Kyle Pickens, Vice President of Strategy at Globalstar.

Founded in South Africa in 2006, Sedna has rapidly expanded its solutions and innovation to serve mines globally (it has active operations on three continents) with scoping, sourcing, installing, and supporting enabling operational technology (OT) network technologies. Sedna installed Africa’s first licensed spectrum private LTE (pLTE) network in South Africa as well Africa’s first underground leaky feeder licensed spectrum pLTE network.

“We aim to expand our solutions broadly across the continent. This will include developing adequate use cases to address customer needs. Innovations include automotive solutions through the power of AI, mobile connectivity for sensors, and geofencing for workers’ safety, among many others. The world is truly in the network, and by harnessing these innovations Africa’s heavy industries can thrive, survive and grow,” says Fester.

Sedna continues to expand its trusted partnership eco-system. Last month it strengthened its partnership with Nokia to co-operate on the technological advancement and development of Africa’s mining sector. It is now Nokia’s main system integrator for Africa in mining and other industrial applications.

“Our aim is to be a next-generation solutions provider to mines and other heavy industries across Africa. Technology has the power to ensure Africa’s growth trajectory is accelerated and with partners like Globalstar, we will continue to drive this growth with tailored, cutting edge solutions,” concludes Fester.

Rham’s independence reaping rewards in consolidating underground mobile fleet industry

In a rapidly consolidating sector for primary underground load and haul machines, Olifantsfontein, South Africa-based Rham Equipment remains one of the few smaller, innovative and nimble players – which has enabled it to stay at the forefront of development and customisation in areas like battery electric power.

The company had already built South Africa’s first battery loader – the 6 t 20HD – back in 2019, and in 2022 it completed the country’s first battery electric underground truck – the 32 t DT32. It has now also moved on to building flameproof battery loaders for the coal market and has been asked recently to electrify a bolter for coal mine usage. It also offers a battery electric Land Cruiser for both surface and underground markets. One of its battery machines has also recently been retrofitted for autonomous operation which is thought to be a world first – an ultra-low profile 25HDB, which was integrated with RCT’s market-leading ControlMaster® automation technology and is working in a platinum mine.

Managing Director Kevin Reynders emphasised that the battery electric equipment market is also fast-moving and evolving and that its ability to essentially make each machine on a customised basis means it can quickly take advantage of this evolution. “It is important to realise that this market is changing fast due to the evolving battery Watt hour densities. When we started building battery-electric loaders, the batteries were about 60-99 Wh [Watt hours], and now the lithium iron phosphate batteries we are using are 169 Wh/kg, and by early 2023 it is expected that 200 Wh/kg lithium iron phosphate – LiFePO4 – will be available. Automatically that gives us a 69% power increase for the same battery weight. It also means we can install more battery packs in the machine and get better capacity and better shift productive time. And we are very honest with our customers – we tell them this is what we can supply now, but this is what we can potentially supply in a year.” While 200+ Wh nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries are already available, these are not as safe as LiFePO4, as they are not as stable under thermal runaway conditions.

And the way Rham machines are designed makes them relatively easy to retrofit from diesel to battery operation due to their use of hydrostatic drives – another big differentiator in the market. “We have a number of clients that have bought diesel machines from us and have said to us when those units come in for mid-life repairs – they want them retrofitted to battery – and we are able to do this.” In fact the first ever Rham battery 20HD was a retrofit.

Today, Sandvik, Epiroc and Rham all have battery electric equipment in the South African hard rock market – Reynders estimates the number of machines ordered or delivered is now in double figures – this includes the Sandvik LH518B loader at AngloGold Ashanti’s South Deep and Epiroc’s Scooptram ST14 Battery and Minetruck MT42 Battery set for Black Rock. Rham has ten battery machines running – 7 t (25HDB), 7.5 t 30HDBF (flameproof unit) and 10 t (30HDX) battery LHDs plus the mentioned DT32 (32 t payload) underground battery truck – with more units under construction. These are all in or going to platinum, gold and chrome mining operations and replacing diesel machines. Plus it has begun to also deliver its Electric Cruisers.

Flameproof Rham 30HDBF for the underground coal market

The battery used in the coal market to date has been older design lead acid machines used on some loaders and shuttle cars. However, Rham’s flameproof LHD is the first in coal with a LiFePO4 battery. Three flameproof Rham LHDs – known as the 30HDBF – have been built, which the coal mining client is now testing. The loaders can carry 7-8 t depending on the material density.

Reynders told IM: “The potential market in coal is massive. Diesel LHDs dominate the South African market today in coal. But the miners want to eliminate the underground heat and diesel particulate matter emissions. We are also looking at applying our LiFePO4 battery solution to the shuttle cars so they can lose the restriction of having a cable. In addition, we are considering converting two locos to lithium battery operation in a platinum mine.”

Reynders also says that the South African market is becoming much more mature. While some still want to wait until others test and trial battery machines, on the whole the majority want to start using the machines as soon as they are available, so demand for that is very high. He believes that as testing ramps up in 2023, by 2024 the demand for new battery machines in South Africa will start to ramp up very quickly and customers that have trialled one or two machines will look to wholesale fleet replacement.

So how would Rham summarise its unique market advantage? “First and foremost we are small, so it is easy for us to make decisions. And that is part of the reason customers come to us. The big OEMs can’t change things quickly in the same way that we can. If the customer wants to try a particular configuration or retrofit, we will work with them to do it where others will not. All of our frames and a lot of our components including are made locally which has also shielded us from some of the supply issues affecting other OEMs. We offer a much faster turnaround time, plus our machines are more cost competitive.”

Rham Electric Cruiser, a converted Toyota Land Cruiser with Huber Automotive battery powertrain

Recently Rham has also built up an export market in India, working with a dealer there and selling diesel loaders, trucks and bolters for underground room and pillar operations there. Plus its machines are known for performance – a Rham bolter recently set a per shift section bolting record in South Africa with 374 bolts.

Rham is additionally active in bringing battery electric light vehicle options to the southern African market. In 2021 it began a partnership with Germany’s Huber Automotive AG which led to the introduction of the Electric Cruiser – which in Africa is now based on Rham carrying out conversions of the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series using Huber’s well proven Li-ion battery electric powertrain. After a roadshow around the country with the first unit, it was sold for surface use and a further unit has now also been sold for underground use. Two more are also on order which will bring the total to four. There is also a customer looking to convert a number of its Land Cruisers to battery with Rham.

 

Insig Technologies on the advantages Of Ventilation on Demand

Electricity is one of the biggest expenses associated with underground mining. Ventilation often accounts for 25% to 40% of the total energy costs and 40% to 50% of the total energy consumption of a mine operation. Systems used to ventilate underground mines and the total fan power installed in a single mine operation can easily exceed 10,000 kW.

In a recent article published by Insig Technologies, the company argues that investigations of a number of mine ventilation systems have indicated to be, in general, fairly energy inefficient. “A large number of systems operate at efficiencies below 65%. Ventilation is also one of the major health and safety concerns as the level of pollutants and ambient temperature must be maintained within a defined range to minimise negative health outcomes for the people working underground. Due to the need to improve the underground environment, increase production, and minimise the waste of energy, the demand for Ventilation on Demand (VoD) has grown at an intensified rate in the underground mining world.”

Most mining operations operate on continuous rosters working two 12-hour shifts, however, during these shifts there are periods of time when productive work is not performed, and the need for ventilation is much lower. “Two typical and large non-productive times in underground mining are travelling to and from the workplace and exclusion periods for pre and post blasting. During a 12-hour underground work shift up to 20% to 25% of the shift time can be unproductive time for both assets and personnel. The flow of air required to maintain air quality changes as the mine development progresses and significant savings can be realised by adjusting fan speed in line with vehicle emissions, human activities, planned activities and mine configuration.”

Insig Technologies’ Ventilation on Demand (VoD) it says provides a solution that consists of both engineered equipment and software to optimise the new and the older generation ventilation equipment. This product provides one of the key strategic priorities of the Insig Digital Mining Model, through the integration of the equipment intelligence capability with autonomous operation of fixed plant equipment. It provides the first step in developing a full autonomous production VoD system from the physical fan to the intelligent software layer.

“VoD utilises airflow and pressure sensors to monitor the performance and condition of the ventilation system components. Real-time monitoring combined with dynamic fan control provides a more effective underground gas extraction/air circulation process, as areas that are being worked in benefit from better, more efficient ventilation, while areas not being worked in are not ventilated. Overall, this leads to significantly reduced electricity and power consumption costs, whilst also making the underground mine much safer and more productive.”

When integrated with Insig Technologies Environmental Quality Management System (EQMS), a recent trial within an underground mine in WA demonstrated that gas levels dropped to safe levels within 12 minutes after a blast when the remote control of VoD enabled ventilation to be initiated directly after the blast.

VoD offers an all-in-one solution that can either be integrated into the existing client network, or work as a standalone system providing a cloud-based interface for operators to access the critical data from any location. “Sensors are installed at critical points across the ventilation system, with localised PLCs connected via communication cables to establish an extensive underground network. Data is then either sent offsite through a secure cloud connection to allow the front-end display through the fit-for-purpose interface or kept on premises and displayed on on-site server infrastructure. Each solution can be custom designed to ensure it is the best fit possible for each mine site.”

Overall, the cited benefits of the Insig Technologies VoD system are: autonomous operation with complete remote control and monitoring over the underground ventilation system; compatibility with all ventilation systems with the ability to integrate solution in pre-existing on-site hardware; and a cloud-based interface with acquisition of data continuously (opposed to weekly or fortnightly manual readings) which can provide a view of the air quality in the various parts of the mine reducing HSE risk.

It also offers increased productivity, as shorter periods of downtime after blasting and maintenance activities means mining activities can get under way sooner and in a safe manner. And cost savings – due to increased energy efficiency through an adaptive ventilation system, air flow within an underground mine will only be directed to an area that requires it. Finally, greater energy efficiency. Support of a broader business case, related to the introduction of renewable technologies in underground mining. VoD can be used to re-configure the mine electrical load profile to match variable renewable energy and energy storage solutions.

Komatsu supports contractor ESEMIN PERU with new WX07 LHD at El Santo

ESEMIN PERU, a mining contractor in Peru, needed to offer AuPlata Mining Group, the operator of the El Santo mine, dependable loadhauldump (LHD) capabilities. So, they began to look for a reliable LHD in a short time frame. Their current LHD manufacturer lacked the viable financial options, technical support and machine dependability for their mediumsized business.

El Santo is an underground mine located 225 km northwest of Arequipa, Peru. AMG AuPlata exploits polymetallic veins (lead, silver, Zn and Au) at El Santo. The timing was ideal AMG Auplata was establishing operations while ESEMIN PERU was looking to expand. Also, AMG Auplata was at a key decision point in selecting a reliable contractor for supplying equipment that would perform well in their mine.

Specifically, the mining contractor needed a 4 cubic yard loader with a 7 t payload capacity from a reputable supplier with fast delivery on stock equipment. Speed was important the mine operators had ongoing maintenance downtime issues with their current LHDs. ESEMIN PERU collaborated with Komatsu to meet the mineral loading needs of El Santos.

Komatsu states: “After evaluating the key priorities for the El Santo operation and the required configuration of main components, engine, transmission, converter, and axles, the WX07 LHD was identified as an ideal solution. Understanding the top concerns and priorities of the customer, the Komatsu team had an overarching goal of providing a complete solution for ESEMIN PERU and their client, the El Santo mine. Besides demonstrating the proven track record of the WX07 and providing technical specifications, the team set about building a financing model for selling new equipment based on ESEMIN PERU’s unique needs and requirements.

In the meantime, there were several rounds of assessments and inquiries. The Komatsu technical specialists addressed all the technical questions promptly and completely, creating confidence in the company and the people supporting this machine. After a collaborative process of looking at all key variables and the unique needs of the mining operation, the ESEMIN PERU team opted for the WX07 and subsequently won a contract with the El Santo mine.

During initial commissioning, the mine experienced some technical issues with the WX07, which were quickly solved by a local technical support team. “The speed and support in resolving these initial issues during commissioning was a critical deciding factor in continuing to go forward
With help from ESEMIN PERU, the El Santo mine is now reaping the benefits of the WX07 and its reliable components. The operation has also seen gains in productivity due to more hours performed per shift, citing the enclosed cabin and increased comfort as a factor in increasing output.”

Within a short time, the WX07 reached 4,500 engine hours at the El Santo mine with only preventive maintenance filters and oils needed. With this dependable workhorse now part of their fleet. ESEMIN PERU is now positioned to continue to serve the needs of local mines, such as El Santo, with financing and technical support that meets their specific needs.

“It was easy doing business with Komatsu as their commercial people were always there trying to identify the opportunity, requesting information to understand the business context and being creative to offer the solution we needed. The technical specialists also were there to solve all the technical questions to create the confidence in the WX07 we needed,” says Jaime Rivera Vicent, General Manager, ESEMIN PERU.

 

China’s Yutong continues leading battery electric wide body mining truck presence

While the progress of SANY and XCMG with the supply of battery wide body mining trucks has been well publicised recently, both for Chinese customers but also export customers like Vale and CSN in Brazil, Yutong in Zhengzhou, Henan Province is an increasingly important player. The group told IM that it has trials ongoing with its battery trucks in Thailand, Chile, Indonesia and Kazakhstan, plus estimates its share of the Chinese BEV wide body truck market at 50%. Therefore taking its installed fleet as a whole it is one of the most significant OEMs today contributing to Scope 1 emissions reduction at minesites.

It argues that its market differentiators include having battery mining truck models going back to 2008, therefore having 15 years of practical customer experience and products which are more mature. It also has several established models – its battery trucks including 60 t (YKY90E), 70 t (YKT105E) and 80 t (YKT115E) models. The company says its can offer either fixed chargers or battery swapping to mining customers. On sales and service in some locations it is using its own direct after sales team but follows up with establishment of a full local subsidiary and/or local distributor.

But the underlying strength is its global importance in supplying the BEV bus market. Yutong started electric technology development for buses back in 1999 and today there are more than 170,000 battery buses and other battery vehicles in China and overseas markets; this includes 888 battery buses and other vehicles operating in Qatar for FIFA during the World Cup.

To give some important domestic mining project examples, earlier this year after two months of trial operation in 5,200 m-altitude Huatailong copper-gold mining area in Tibet, Pizu Group decided to purchase a large fleet Yutong BEV mining trucks. Also in Tibet, Zijin Mining’s world class Julong copper mine has used Yutong BEVs in development works, again at well over 5,000 m. In coal mining, customers include Mongolia Energy Corporation while it also supplies BEV trucks to the limestone mining operations of some of China’s leading cement producers such as China United Cement Corporation (CUCC), China National Building Material Group (CNBM) and Esheng Group. Another major customer is bauxite and alumina group East Hope Group.

A notable new export market is Chile – SQM has deployed a Yutong 28 t ZKH5310ZLJP6BEV with a 422 kWh battery pack. With a range of up to 200 km and 28 t of capacity, Chile’s first electric mining truck will be used at SQM’s operations in the Antofagasta Region. In collaboration with the mining company, project partner Enel X is also installing a high capacity charging station unlike any other in Chile.

The new E-truck is expected to make 86 km trips from the Coya Sur potassium nitrate plant in María Elena to the port of Tocopilla, travelling an estimated 7,500 km per month. The production system at Coya Sur uses intermediary salts of sodium nitrate taken from Nueva Victoria, and potassium chloride from the Atacama salt flats. Enel X and SQM developed a leasing model for the purchase of the electric truck and the installation of a 150 kW charging station that can fully charge the truck’s battery in three hours. The charging infrastructure will be installed at the Coya Sur plant in María Elena, guaranteeing almost 200 km of operation.

If the project is successful, the companies will add the Salar de Atacama-Carmen Lithium Chemical Plant route to the initiative. This is the highest traffic route for the lithium process, with 230 trucks in service. SQM work sites could replace 320 high-capacity diesel trucks with electric vehicles, 90 of which are used on the same route as the first truck, over a five-year period.

Scott Technology signs deal with Cat for automated connection battery truck charging

NZX-listed Scott Technology has announced an agreement with Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, that supports both company’s commitments to contribute to a reduced-carbon future. Scott and Caterpillar will develop an automated connection system to support stationary charging of electrified machines including battery mining trucks.

Scott’s expertise in this space derives from its Robofuel product (pictured), which successfully automates the traditional diesel refuelling process of mining vehicles. Under the collaboration, Scott will apply this proprietary technology to enable solutions in electrified applications.

Scott Technology CEO, John Kippenberger, says, Scott is proud to work with a global leader such as Caterpillar on this project. “At Scott we are passionate about pursuing a long-term sustainable future together with our customers and wider stakeholders. We are delighted to support Caterpillar’s efforts to provide its customers with solutions that help them meet their sustainability goals,” says Kippenberger.

Electric mining vehicles will require more recharging interactions than traditional diesel vehicles require refuelling, therefore the need to automate this process is critical to ensuring safety and efficiency.

“Our world leading vision sensing and detection system combined with our robotic technology allows the charging process to be completed in a fraction of the time and without manual intervention, eliminating human risk and labour costs while maximising fleet utilisation. The collaborative efforts will result in a safer and more efficient solution,” says Kippenberger.

“We look forward to working with Scott Technology on this innovative system. This solution is a building block in our electrification and automation portfolio to provide safer and more efficient solutions to our mining customers,” says Brian Weller, Vice President at Caterpillar.

Munro Vehicles set to unveil all-electric off-road 4×4 capable of 16 hours operation on single charge

Munro Vehicles, a new manufacturer of all-electric 4x4s, and Scotland’s only volume production car company, is set to unveil its first vehicle, the Munro®MK_1, at a global launch event in Edinburgh on December 5. Designed, engineered, and built in the UK, the Munro MK_1 it says “will be the world’s most capable all-electric 4×4, born off-road to navigate the most challenging terrain and operating for up to 16 hours on a single battery charge.”

It says the Munro’s “prodigious all-terrain ability” and advanced all-electric powertrain make it an ideal choice for those seeking to minimise their environmental footprint in numerous sectors, including mining, without compromising on performance or capability.

Engineered to effortlessly transport a crew of five to the most rugged locations, accommodating an 1,000 kg payload and 3,500 kg towing capacity, the Munro it says “represents the ultimate, sustainable, utilitarian, off-road workhorse. Intensely focused on off-highway performance, reliability, ease-of-repair and longevity, the Munro is engineered to provide owners and operators with decades of service.”

Munro CEO, Russell Peterson commented: “This early sketch of the Munro MK_1 by our award-winning in-house designer Ross Compton, underlines our design commitment to build an all-terrain electric 4X4 engineered from the wheels up to provide unparalleled workhorse capability for commercial customers looking to decarbonise their fleets. The Munro MK_1 will effortlessly go to places others can’t reach, with bulletproof durability and ultra-low running costs. The Munro team and I can’t wait to show the world the fully finished vehicle on December 5th.”

Munro Vehicles says it will build 50 vehicles in 2023 before transitioning to a new purpose-built site near Glasgow in 2024. With the creation of 300 new jobs, production will be ramped up to 250 vehicles per year with a strategic roadmap in place to deliver 2,500 units annually by 2027.

The Munro is cleverly engineered to be simple and low-cost to maintain, with the extensive use of existing components. This approach ensures a superior total cost of ownership, with maximum uptime from a fully electric 4×4 that minimises its footprint no matter where it goes.

Caterpillar successfully demos battery 793 truck at 60 km/h & invests in Sustainable Proving Ground

Following revelations yesterday from some of its major mining company alliance partners that attended its recent Early Learner Summit event, Caterpillar Inc formally announced today the successful demonstration of its first battery electric 793 large mining truck as well as a significant investment to transform its Arizona-based proving ground into a sustainable testing and validation hub of the future.

Caterpillar completed development of its first battery electric 793 prototype with support from key mining customers participating in Caterpillar’s Early Learner program. Participants of the program with definitive electrification agreements include BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Corporation, Rio Tinto and Teck Resources Ltd.

“Our global team came together to develop this battery truck at an accelerated pace to help our customers meet their sustainability commitments,” said Resource Industries Group President Denise Johnson. “This demonstration is a significant milestone, and we are excited for these trucks to get to work at customers’ sites around the world in the near future.”

The Early Learner program launched in 2021 and focuses on accelerating the development and validation of Caterpillar’s battery electric trucks at participating customers’ sites. This approach supports the individual commitments each Early Learner participant has made to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from their operations. A primary objective of the program is for Caterpillar to collaborate more closely with its customers as the industry undergoes transformational change through the energy transition.

Early Learner customers came together to witness a live demonstration of Caterpillar’s prototype battery truck on a 7 km (4.3 mile) course. During the event, Caterpillar monitored over 1,100 data channels, gathering 110,000 data points per second, to validate simulation and engineering modelling capabilities. Fully loaded to its rated capacity, the truck achieved a top speed of 60 km/h (37.3 mph). The loaded truck travelled one kilometre (0.62 mile) up a 10% grade at 12 km/h (7.5 mph). The truck also performed a one kilometre (0.62 mile) run on a 10% downhill grade, capturing the energy that would normally be lost to heat and regenerating that energy to the battery. Upon completing the entire run, the truck maintained enough battery energy to perform additional complete cycles.

The prototype truck was built at Caterpillar’s Tucson Proving Ground, located in Green Valley, Arizona. In support of the energy transition, Caterpillar is investing to transform the proving ground into a working, sustainable “mine site of the future” by installing and utilising a variety of renewable energy sources. The objective is to implement the same sustainable solutions mining companies will use at their own operations to learn firsthand what it takes to run an electrified mine site and effectively support customers through the changes.

“The transformation of the Tucson Proving Ground allows Caterpillar to demonstrate our energy transition commitments and serve as a stronger advisor to customers as we navigate the changes together. We know it will take an integrated, site-level solution for miners to achieve their carbon-reduction goals, and we’re here to help as they redefine the way they mine for generations to come,” emphasised Johnson.

As part of the site transformation, the company will install the latest advancements in sustainability technology, including green hydrogen production, natural gas and 100% hydrogen reciprocating engine power generation, fuel cell power generation and expanded energy storage systems. The site will also leverage a variety of renewable power sources, including wind, solar and hydrogen, capable of powering the facility and its products as they become electrified. The transformation of the facility will also serve as a learning platform for optimising charging and energy management integration.

Tier 1 miners view Caterpillar’s 793 Electric prototype battery truck at event in Tucson

Senior executives from some of the world’s top mining companies including Rio Tinto, BHP, Freeport McMoRan, Newmont and Teck Resources were among the first to see Caterpillar Inc’s first battery electric mining truck in person last week at a special Early Learner Summit at its Proving Grounds in Tucson, Arizona – they have revealed in several online posts that the company’s first battery mining truck prototype is based on the 793 platform, the most recent diesel version of which is the new 244 t class version only just launched in November 2022 which replaced the 231 t 793F. The new truck was badged 793 Electric.

The 793 is the battery truck that forms part of Caterpillar’s zero emissions agreement with Rio Tinto (deployment of 35-strong zero emissions and autonomous 793 fleet at the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Australia). Rio will be one of the first to get to try out an early learner Cat battery truck. Teck will also get to try out an early learner before it gets its final battery fleet in Elk Valley Coal in BC, Canada, beginning in 2027, which will also include an electric version of the 297 t 794. Other companies with zero emissions alliance agreements with Caterpillar include BHP, Freeport and Newmont as mentioned but also Antofagasta Minerals as well as additional groups.

And to give credit to Caterpillar, this latest development means it has kept good on its word so far. In its 2022 Investor Day presentation on May 17, Caterpillar Group President of Resource Industries – Denise Johnson said on its battery truck roadmap: “Our accelerated development will be done at customer minesites. By later this year we will have prototypes running at our Tucson Proving Grounds, where we will validate our technical assumptions and complete machine technical feasibility. By early 2024, we are sending what we call early learner units to customer sites where we will refine the requirements and do process development and product and technology validation.”

Going forward, more will be revealed about Caterpillar’s battery electric truck program, including how it will work with Cat’s autonomous haulage system Command for hauling. Johnson told IM in 2021: “Technology is the key to optimise battery performance, battery life, and production. And we have conversations every day with mining customers on these sorts of issues. Autonomy is going to be a part of the future for almost all major mines as well as many of the smaller ones, so it will go hand in hand with electrification.” She added on introduction: “Aside from some greenfield projects there will be a phased introduction where mines have large existing fleets. So yes, the new power trucks will coexist for some time at many mines with conventional trucks – they will be ‘feathered in’ if you will.”