Tag Archives: 3ME Technology

Macmahon contemplates underground shift to battery-electric utility vehicles

One of Australia’s leading contract miners, Macmahon, says it is considering the use of the battery-electric Bortana EV model for its greater underground operations in the future.

The company made the admission after announcing the arrival of two Agrale Marruá AM200 light utility vehicles for its underground mining contracts (pictured). One of these – the dual cab version – is already in use and on site at BHP’s Leinster nickel operation in Western Australia.

Originally built for the Brazilian army, Macmahon has previously trialled these Tier 4 diesel engine utility vehicles, saying they are equipped to deal with what the underground mining environment throws at them.

“With the body, doors and tray all made from galvanised steel, along with a heavy-duty chassis, these corrosion-resistant vehicles are built to withstand the harsh underground environment,” it said.

Macmahon’s previous vehicles had a lifespan of 3-5 years, and it is expecting an operating life of up to six years minimum with Marrua, predicting these AM200s could last 8-10 years.

“This means, over time, we will have reduced maintenance and run cost due to the heavy-duty driveline components,” it said.

The company added: “Looking to the future, we’re also considering the electric Bortana EV model for our greater underground operations.”

The Bortana EV, which has a chassis of a diesel-powered Agrale Marruá, electric technology from 3ME and Safescape’s design and engineering expertise, has been trialled all over Australia. This includes a stint at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine, in Victoria; a test at Mincor’s Long nickel mine, in Western Australia; and a try-out at IGO’s Nova operation, also in Western Australia.

Aeris Resources adds battery-electric 20 t carrier/loader to Tritton fleet

Aeris Resources has confirmed the arrival of the battery-electric retrofit ‘TRITEV’ 20 t underground loader at its Tritton copper operations, with the company having added the Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader to its fleet at the New South Wales, Australia, mine.

3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment (BME) unveiled this industry-first machine last month, with 3ME saying the machine would head to Tritton later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

The collaboration between 3ME and Aeris Resources started all the way back in 2017, Aeris Resources said in its arrival announcement on LinkedIn

Based on a second-hand Volvo diesel-powered L120E, the TRITEV required a “ground-up rebuild” from the 3ME and BME teams, 3ME Chief Business Development Officer, Steven Lawn, told IM last month.

This included removing all diesel internal combustion engine components, except the transmission and drivetrain; modelling the expected duty cycle at Tritton; developing a battery-electric system to suit the application at hand; writing the vehicle control unit software; integrating the system into the existing platform; and providing a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

The 3ME and BME teams planned to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales (previously owned by Centennial Coal and now on care and maintenance), ahead of sending to Tritton.

3ME, Batt Mobile Equipment gear up for TRITEV deployment at Aeris’ Tritton mine

With the launch of the ‘TRITEV’ in Australia earlier this month, 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment unveiled what is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment in underground hard-rock mines.

The Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader is scheduled to arrive at Aeris Resources’ Tritton underground copper mine in New South Wales later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

It follows on the heels of Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019, also as part of Project EVmine.

Steven Lawn, Chief Business Development Officer at 3ME, told IM that the machine’s development represented more than just a “diesel refit”.

“The machine we used was a second-hand Volvo L120E that required a ground-up rebuild,” he said. “The guys removed all diesel internal combustion engine components except the transmission and drivetrain. They then modelled the expected duty cycle.”

After this modelling, the designers developed a battery-electric system (battery, motor, motor control unit and ancillary items) that would suit the application at hand.

The software team then entered the process, writing the vehicle control unit software (ie the software that makes everything work), with a focus on ensuring the human machine interface remained the same so there was no difference for an operator controlling the legacy diesel variant and the battery-electric retrofit version, Lawn explained.

They then integrated the system into the existing platform before the team at Batt Mobile Equipment provided a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

Ahead of deployment at Tritton, the company plans to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales, Lawn said. This underground mine, previously owned by Centennial Coal, was put on care and maintenance back in 2014.

The partnership that delivered this industry first already has eyes on another EV retrofit, Lawn said, explaining that a Minecruiser platform for use in underground hazardous area mines is next on the agenda.

3ME Technology is understood to have an upcoming release in the pipeline in regards to its state-of-the-art battery system for mining applications, now also under demand from the defence market as indicated by recent public announcements about 3ME Technology’s participation in Australia’s C4 EDGE Program.

“The increased levels of safety and compliance achievable with the 3ME Technology battery system means that 3ME Technology is spearheading the supply of high-performance lithium-ion batteries into underground mining,” the company said.

Electric underground light vehicles coming to Kambalda, Mincor’s Southam says

Mincor Resources’ David Southam said the restart of the company’s Kambalda nickel mine in Western Australia will act as a “global showcase” for all-electric underground light vehicles when it opens in the next few years.

Southam, the company’s Managing Director, made such a statement at the Paydirt 2019 Australian Nickel Conference in Perth, Western Australia, this week.

The company is currently running a definitive feasibility study (DFS) at the project, at the same time as completing drilling to add resources to the property. First site works could occur in the March quarter, according to Southam.

So far, Mincor has built up a 4.7 Mt resource base grading 3.7% Ni for 175,300 t of contained nickel. The company hopes to deliver initial throughput of between 400,000-600,000 t/y of ore over an initial four-to-five-year period, which it will sell to BHP’s nearby Kambalda operations as part of an offtake agreement with the major miner.

Southam said the company’s decision to restart underground nickel mining operations using new light electric vehicles such as Safescape’s Bortana EV (with system integration from 3ME Technology and Agrale) would reduce ventilation costs and diesel particulate counts.

The Bortana EV, specifically, has had a prototype undergo local mine site testing in Newcastle, New South Wales, before an extended trial with Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria.

Southam also said the company had a longer-term aim to transition larger mining vehicles to electric once infrastructure was established.

“This mine restart will be a global showcase for this new and more environmentally-friendly mining technology,” he said.