Tag Archives: Charge on Innovation Challenge

Shell Consortium previews Charge On haul truck electrification solution

Shell has become the latest Charge On Innovation Challenge winner to unveil details about its electric haul truck charging solution, outlining how its consortium of partners intend to combine an end-to-end and interoperable electrification system that reduces emissions without compromising on efficiency or safety, while aiming to be cost competitive versus diesel-powered operation.

The Charge On Innovation Challenge was launched in 2021 and invited vendors and technology innovators from around the world and across industries to collaborate with the mining industry to present novel electric truck charging solutions. The challenge received interest from over 350 companies across 19 industries, with more than 80 companies submitting expressions of interest. Twenty-one companies were then invited to present a detailed pitch of their solution, with the final eight – which included the Shell Consortium – chosen to progress from these 21.

The global challenge, launched by BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, sought to accelerate commercialisation of effective solutions for charging large electric haul trucks while simultaneously demonstrating there is an emerging market for these solutions in mining.

The Charge On Innovation Challenge requested international solution providers to put forward charging concepts that are:

  • Designed with safety as the number one priority, using inherent defensive design and future-proof principles;
  • Able to supply a battery for 220-t payload electric haul trucks;
  • Capable of supplying 400 kW hours of electricity to a truck during each haul cycle;
  • Able to provide battery charging, or both propulsion and battery charging;
  • Cost effective, minimising complexity without reducing productivity; and
  • Interoperable, allowing different haul truck manufacturers to utilise the same charging infrastructure.

On a media call this week, Shell highlighted how its consortium of nine partners was working on a solution that could not only meet this brief, but also provide a commercial offering to electrify mining and other industries.

Skeleton, Microvast, Stäubli, Carnegie Robotics, Heliox, Spirae, Alliance Automation, Worley and Shell have come together to introduce Shell’s mining electrification solutions for off-road vehicles. This consists of:

  • Power provisioning and microgrids, with the aim to provide a consistent and reliable supply of renewable power in a safe and stable manner;
  • Ultra-fast charging whereby an approximate 90-second charge via flexible, hardwearing and resilient, on-site, ultrafast charge-points can provide assets with continuous operation of some 20-30 minutes depending on the haulage profile; and
  • In-vehicle energy storage: through a combination of advanced battery and capacitor technologies that aim to deliver long lifetimes, ultra-fast charging and high performance.

Some of the key components of the power provision and energy management solution come from Alliance Automation, a multi-disciplined industrial automation and electrical engineering company; Spirae, a technology company that develops solutions for integrating renewable and distributed energy resources within microgrids and power systems for economic optimisation, resiliency enhancement and decarbonisation; Worley, an engineering company that provides project delivery and consulting services to the resources and energy sectors, and complex process industries; and Shell Energy, which provides innovative, reliable and cleaner energy solutions through a portfolio of gas, power, environmental products and energy efficiency offers to businesses and residential customers.

The ultra-fast charging element involves solutions from Carnegie Robotics, a provider of rugged sensors, autonomy software and platforms for defence, agriculture, mining, marine, warehouse and energy applications; Heliox, a leader in fast charging systems within public transport, e-trucks, marine, mining and port equipment; and Stäubli, a global industrial and mechatronic solution provider with four dedicated divisions: electrical connectors, fluid connectors, robotics and textile.

Finally, Skeleton, a global technology leader in fast energy storage for automotive, transportation, grid and industrial applications, and Microvast, a leader in the design, development and manufacture of battery solutions for mobile and stationary applications, are in charge of the in-vehicle energy storage side of things.

As a result of this collaboration, mining operators, Shell says, are set to benefit from an integrated electrification solution that:

  • Is end-to-end, covering the full journey of the electron from generation to delivery in the drivetrain;
  • Is interoperable between different original equipment manufacturer make and models, giving mining operators greater flexibility;
  • Is modular in design to allow mining customers the opportunity to tailor solutions to their specific needs; and
  • Reduces emissions without compromising on operational efficiency or safety.

Sebastian Pohlmann, Skeleton Technologies’ Vice President Automotive & Business Development, revealed more details about the plans for the in-vehicle energy storage part of the equation, confirming that the fast energy storage solution set to be fitted on these 220-t payload haul trucks would leverage its SuperBattery.

The SuperBattery, Pohlmann said, offers a 100 times faster charging option compared with standard lithium-ion batteries, while also being free of cobalt, nickel, graphite and copper materials. He also mentioned that a SuperBattery-equipped haul truck could, in the right situation, offer higher utilisation than its diesel-powered equivalent.

The SuperBattery is due to start production in 2024, with Pohlmann saying the battery lined up for a prototype system as part of the Shell Consortium would weigh in at just over 12 tonnes. He also highlighted the potential for other applications in mining outside of 220 t haul trucks with this platform.

The ultra-fast charging solution that the consortium partners were working on assumed a peak power delivery of 24 MW, Pohlmann said, explaining that the charge points would be positioned around areas where haul trucks normally come to a stop – during dumping or loading, for instance – meaning charging would not interrupt the haul cycle and ensure high utilisation of the truck at all times.

With such a high power draw envisaged by the partners, Grischa Sauerberg, Vice President, Sectoral Decarbonisation & Innovation at Shell, explained that a stationary power element – renewable energy and battery storage – may also be provided if the grid power available cannot support such a peak draw.

The commercial offering from the partners is expected in 2025, however Sauerberg confirmed a pilot solution was set to be tested at a Shell facility in Hamburg, Germany, next year, followed by final field trials at selected mine sites in 2024.

Ampcontrol strengthens decarbonisation drive by joining the Electric Mine Consortium

Ampcontrol says it has joined the Australia-based Electric Mine Consortium (EMC) to drive efforts towards electrifying and decarbonising the mining industry.

The EMC is a growing group of highly regarded mining and service companies, driven by the imperative to produce zero-emission products for their customers and meet mounting investor expectations and industry challenges.

Ampcontrol is strengthening its strategic focus on decarbonisation through the innovation and development of electrical solutions, adapting to the changing times.

“Joining the Electric Mine Consortium is a natural progression of our commitment to supporting our customers and industry through the national energy transition,” Rod Henderson, Ampcontrol Managing Director and CEO, said. “Ampcontrol is at the forefront of renewable energy manufacturing. We engineer and supply advanced technology, products, and services to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment.”

EMC Founder and Director Graeme Stanway, said: “The way we generate, store and harness energy around the globe is undergoing a period of major change.

“A global ecosystem has begun to emerge to underpin the innovation and scaling of electrification technologies.”

As well as pioneering products in the renewable energy space, Ampcontrol has been using its engineering expertise to already assist with the transitioning mining industry.

Alongside Tritium, Ampcontrol was a winner in the global ‘Charge On Innovation Challenge’ in May 2022. The joint submission was an end-to-end mining haul truck battery swap solution that is fully automated, relocatable, scalable and cell agnostic. In a drive-in/drive-out recharging station, an autonomous transfer robot swaps batteries in 90 seconds, significantly reducing safety risks and increasing productivity by excluding personnel from the swaps process.

Henderson said: “One of the areas Ampcontrol identified as a need of the industry was assisting businesses with the next steps to get to the future state of electrified mining operations. When businesses think ‘I need energy’ to perform certain functions, the first instinct is often to acquire more energy. Our expertise at Ampcontrol is to help businesses use the materials they already have available, in a different way.”

Ampcontrol says it recognises the importance of partnerships and collaboration in developing technology solutions to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment.

“It is important to demonstrate we work alongside other businesses to contribute to the low carbon economy transition and to the responsible sourcing of prime materials to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment,” Henderson said.

The EMC has launched a call out to companies in the tech, renewable and manufacturing industries that can provide ground-breaking solutions to long haul EV trucks and associated charging infrastructure for mine sites and global supply chains.

Driven by collective demand for electric equipment across the EMC’s operating sites, spread over six continents, the consortium is looking to form synergies between mining and non-mining industries to accelerate decarbonisation solutions across the industry – the mining industry currently contributes 8% of the globe’s emissions.

Ampcontrol joins over 20 miners and suppliers to the sector that includes Newcrest, South32, Barminco and Epiroc to create the EMC with the ambition to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

3ME Technology appoints new Chair ahead of next phase of battery system commercialisation

3ME Technology has appointed mining industry veteran and Austmine Chair, Dr Dallas Wilkinson, as its new Chair of the Board, as the battery system provider prepares for its next phase of commercialisation.

Wilkinson, who has taken on the role as of July 2022, succeeds Richard Eveleigh, who has now transitioned to Non-Executive Director after serving as Chair for the past five years.

Wilkinson said: “I am humbled and honoured to be appointed to this role at an exciting time in 3ME Technology’s development. I am impressed with the progress 3ME Technology has made in electrifying heavy vehicles which will make a pronounced impact on the quest to decarbonise and address the growing demand for alternate energy sources. I am looking forward to working with the Board and the talented team to continue to grow through offering their innovative, world-class solutions for battery-powered heavy vehicles.”

3ME Technology was recently named as a winner of the 2022 Charge on Innovation Challenge, with the company expected to provide the challenge with a purpose-refined version of its Bladevolt® battery system to fit the requirements of haul truck operations. The haul truck-specific Bladevolt XL system will, 3ME says, be scalable to fit varied truck sizes, composed of the optimum chemistry, cost-effective and compliant with the proposed charging infrastructure, as well as enabled to capture and analyse critical data that will help improve operations going forward.

Last year, it completed a A$20 million ($13.9 million) capital raise with the CEFC and the Australian Business Growth Fund that allowed the company to scale-up production of its modular and scalable battery systems.

And, earlier in 2021, it confirmed a circa-A$140 million deal had been agreed with Batt Mobile Equipment (BME) to supply BME with upwards of 150 electric vehicle engine packages over five years to power BME’s 20 t Integrated Tool Carrier battery-electric vehicle retrofits.

Wilkinson’s extensive international mining services career spans activities across the value chain of the mining services life cycle from research and development to manufacturing and operations to technology commercialisation and intellectual property protection. His particular knowledge of risk and safety, coupled with a “people and customer centricity” approach, will further support the growth of 3ME Technology’s pioneering battery technology, 3ME says.

Prior to his appointment as Chair of 3ME Technology, Wilkinson was the Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific for a global IP company, Dennemeyer, as well as global and regional leadership roles focused on ground support, mining chemicals and explosives.

Wilkinson went on to say: “The battery electrification of off-highway vehicles that operate in tough conditions is ground-breaking. Industries such as mining, military and construction maintain very high safety standards. Our primary focus when supporting the rollout of 3ME Technology’s innovative Bladevolt battery systems will be to assist those embracing new technology in understanding 3ME Technology’s capabilities and the significant value these systems provide in the energy transition journey.”

BluVein XL open-pit mining dynamic charging solution gains momentum

Much of the buzz around BluVein to this point has focused on its dynamic charging infrastructure for underground mining and quarries, but the company has also been gaining momentum around a surface mining project – as the most recent Charge On™ Innovation Challenge announcement indicates.

The company and its BluVein XL solution were today named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the competition, which is seeking to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.

Within this context, BluVeinXL, the company’s new product line, will be capable of dynamically feeding power to heavy-duty mining fleets with up to 250-t payloads.

The technology leverages much of what was developed for BluVein1: a patented slotted (electric) rail system using an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside the mining vehicle together with the BluVein hammer that connects the electric vehicle to the rail. This system provides power for driving the vehicle, typically a mine truck, and charging the truck’s batteries while the truck is hauling load up the ramp and out of an underground mine.

To this point, funding support for the BluVein1 project – being developed for vehicles up to 60-t payload and powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC) – is being provided by Vale, Glencore, Oz Minerals, Northern Star, South32, BHP, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and Newcrest Mining.

BluVeinXL, meanwhile, has seen the company engage with more than 10 “global mining company leaders” in progressing to a pilot demonstration of the technology. While the company plans to announce the names of these supporting mining companies shortly, it says they all see the need for an industry-standardised, OEM-agnostic, safe dynamic power feed infrastructure to suit mixed OEM open-pit fleets.

The key benefits of the dynamic power feeding solution BluVein is pushing are smaller on-board battery packs, faster vehicle haulage speeds up ramp, grid load balancing and maximum fleet availability.

“Our mining company supporters have provided feedback to us on the benefits they see with BluVeinXL over traditional overhead exposed wire catenary systems offered by other OEMs,” the company said. These are:

  • Near to the ground installation enabled by our patented Ingress Protected safe slotted rail technology;
  • Safer and faster installation;
  • Easy relocation as required to suit open-pit ramp movements over time;
  • Requires no heavy civil foundation requirements;
  • Alleviates the requirements on haul road conditions;
  • Offers purchasing flexibility on electric vehicles through the adoption of an industry-standard dynamic power feed infrastructure; and
  • Safer mine sites with no high voltage exposed overhead wires.

The company concluded: “Together with our mining company supporters, BluVein looks forward to working with all OEMs as we progress towards our planned pilot demonstration at a yet to be announced location.”

RPMGlobal extends haulage vehicle simulation to green hydrogen, hybrid-diesel power

RPMGlobal says it has further advanced its simulation platform to support hybrid vehicles that are powered by green hydrogen or hybrid diesel.

The hybrid vehicle functionality, developed in partnership with Tier-One miners and OEMs within the mining industry, enables users to simulate and test multiple scenarios including vehicles that use hydrogen or hybrid diesel. This is particularly useful for organisations looking to decarbonise their mining operations and are looking for a way to quantify potential options, the company said.

RPM’s simulation solutions use a Discrete Event Simulation engine that has been specifically designed for the mining industry. Organisations typically build a base case simulation they use as a yardstick to measure any changes to the haulage network, road rules, mine layout or vehicles.

Richard Mathews, Chief Executive Officer of RPMGlobal, said the demand for HAULSIM and SIMULATE has been strong. “RPM is experiencing a significant increase in organisations needing to measure and quantify the financial and emission benefits of utilising electric, hydrogen or hybrid diesel alternatives to their traditional diesel fleet.

“The global decarbonisation effort has certainly created demand for RPM’s unique simulation solutions that can assist with answering questions that you simply can’t answer in a spreadsheet.

“RPM’s Commercial Off-The-Shelf simulation solutions are already used worldwide by miners, contractors and OEMs. With mining companies across the world pledging to quantifiably improve their decarbonisation efforts towards net-zero targets, software solutions that can measure and quantify the potential benefits of using lower emission options that are available in the market are super important.”

This latest software release also includes several other developments such as interaction rules for autonomous vehicles, upgrades to electric vehicle infrastructure simulations, additional microservices to evaluate alternative options remotely (server or cloud) and more detailed reporting for electric vehicles.

With this release, RPM is offering usage of the software and training free of charge to anyone taking part in the Charge On Innovation Challenge to support participants in delivering innovative decarbonisation solutions, it said. This challenge came about as a result of BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale and Austmine recognising that the mining industry needs to be at the forefront of tackling climate change. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is aimed at encouraging innovative technology development that will support the mining industry’s decarbonisation efforts.

Charge On Innovation Challenge sparks more miner interest

The organisers of the Charge On Innovation Challenge have reported an overwhelming response to the preliminary phase, which closed on July 31, with 21 mining companies joining as patrons, over 350 companies from across 19 industries registering their interest as vendors, and more than 80 organisations submitting expressions of interest (EOI).

The challenge, a global competition, is expected to drive technology innovators across all industries to develop new concepts and solutions for large-scale haul truck electrification systems aimed at significantly cutting emissions from surface mining. It also aims to demonstrate an emerging market for charging solutions in mining, accelerate commercialisation of solutions and integrate innovations from other industries into the mining sector.

BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale, facilitated by Austmine, launched the Charge On Innovation Challenge in May of this year, initiating the EOI process on May 18. Since the initial launch, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden, Thiess, Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Freeport McMoRan, Gold Fields and Yancoal came forward as patrons by early July.

The latest release has highlighted another nine miners to join as patrons. This includes Barrick Gold, CITIC Pacific Mining, Evolution Mining, Harmony Gold, Mineral Resources Ltd, Newcrest Mining, OZ Minerals, South32 and Syncrude.

The patrons, supported by Austmine, will assess the proposals over the next month and select a shortlist of vendors who will then formally pitch their challenge solutions.

At least one of these proposals has come from ABB, which confirmed earlier this month that it had submitted its ideas for the challenge using its mine electrification, traction and battery system eand charging infrastructure expertise.

At the end of the pitch phase, the challenge patrons will look to select the most desirable charging concepts identified as having broad industry appeal and application, as well as providing a standard geometry that enables chargers to service trucks from different manufacturers. The first concepts could be ready for site trials in the next few years, according to the organisers.

BHP’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project Lead, Scott Davis, said: “The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry in seeking solutions to decarbonise mining fleets. The challenge received interest from companies based in over 20 countries, showing the truly global reach of the opportunity to help reduce haul truck emissions.”

John Mulcahy, Rio Tinto’s lead for the Charge On Innovation Challenge, said: “Twenty-one mining companies, all focused on lowering carbon emissions, have joined as patrons. Together we’re encouraging technology innovators to help us introduce large-scale haul truck electrification solutions. The sooner we bring these technologies to market, the sooner we can introduce them to our fleet, and reduce emissions.”

Vale’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project lead, Mauricio Duarte, said: “We are very happy with the results of the first phase of the project. It´s still early to talk about the success of the challenge, but it is clear that the industry has reached a new level: we worked together on a common sustainability agenda and we will work collectively to reach our goals, gaining safety and speed on our way to low carbon mining.”

OZ Minerals wades into uncharted renewables territory at West Musgrave

You do not get much more remote than OZ Minerals’ West Musgrave copper-nickel project. Located in the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal Lands of central Western Australia, it is some 1,300 km northeast of Perth and 1,400 km northwest of Adelaide; near the intersection of the borders between Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The nearest towns include the Indigenous Communities of Jameson (Mantamaru), 26 km north; Blackstone (Papulankutja), 50 km east; and Warburton (Milyirrtjarra), 110 km west.

This makes the company’s ambition of developing a mine able to produce circa-32,000 t/y of copper and around 26,000 t/y of nickel in concentrates that leverages 100% renewable generation and can conduct ‘zero carbon mining’ even bolder.

OZ Minerals is not taking this challenge on by itself. In addition to multiple consultants and engineering companies engaged in a feasibility study, the company has enlisted the help of ENGIE Impact, the consulting arm of multinational electric utility company ENGIE, to come up with a roadmap that could see it employ renewable technologies to reach its zero ambitions.

“We’re providing an understanding of how they could decarbonise the mine to achieve a net zero end game,” Joshua Martin, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions APAC, told IM.

While ENGIE Impact is focused solely on the energy requirements side of the equation at West Musgrave, its input will prove crucial to the ultimate sustainability success at West Musgrave.

Having worked with others in the mining space such as Vale’s New Caledonia operations (recently sold to the Prony Resources New Caledonia consortium), Martin says OZ Minerals is being “pretty ambitious” when it comes to decarbonisation.

“Our job is to assess if the renewable base case stacks up for West Musgrave, create multiple decarbonisation pathways for their consideration and look at what technology should be adopted to achieve their overall aims,” he said.

This latter element is particularly important for an off-grid project like West Musgrave, which is unlikely to start producing until around mid-2025 should a positive investment decision follow the upcoming feasibility study.

While solar, wind and battery back-up are all likely to play a role in the power plans at West Musgrave – technologies that are frequently factored into hybrid projects looking to wean themselves off diesel or heavy fuel oil use – more emerging technologies are likely to be factored into a roadmap towards 100% renewable adoption.

“We are developing a series of roadmaps that factor in where we think technologies will be in the future,” Martin said. “These roadmaps come with a series of decision gates where the company will need to take one option at that point in time if they are to pursue that particular decarbonisation pathway.”

These roadmaps utilise ENGIE Impact’s consulting and engineering nous, as well as the consultancy’s PROSUMER software (screenshot below) that is used on any asset-level decarbonisation project roadmap, according to Martin.

“This software was specifically built for that purpose,” Martin said. “There is nothing on the market like this.”

Progress at PFS level

OZ Minerals’ December 2020 prefeasibility study update went some way to mapping out its decarbonisation ambition for West Musgrave, with a 50 MW Power Purchase Agreement that involved hybrid renewables (wind, solar, battery, plus diesel or gas).

The company said in this study: “Modelling has demonstrated that circa 70-80% renewables penetration can be achieved for the site, with the current modelled to be an optimised mix of wind, solar and diesel supported by a battery installation.”

OZ Minerals said there was considerable upside in power cost through matching plant power demand with the availability of renewable supply (load scheduling), haulage electrification to maximise the proportion of renewable energy used, and the continued improvement in the efficiency of renewable energy solutions.

ENGIE Impact’s view on hydrogen and electric haulage in the pit may be considered here, complemented by the preliminary results coming out of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaborative mine electrification project OZ Minerals is taking part in with other miners such as Evolution Mining, South32, Gold Fields and IGO. And, on the non-electric pathway, ENGIE Impact’s opinion is being informed by a study it is undertaking in collaboration with Anglo American on developing a “hydrogen valley” in South Africa.

If OZ Minerals’ early technology views are anything to go by, it is willing to take some risk when it comes to adopting new technology.

The preliminary flowsheet in the prefeasibility study factored in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and power demand through the adoption of vertical roller mills (VRMs) as the grinding mill solution, and a flotation component that achieves metal recovery at a much coarser grind size than was previously considered in the design.

Loesche is working with OZ Minerals on the VRM side, and Woodgrove’s Direct Flotation Reactors got a shout out in the process flowsheet.

While mining at West Musgrave is modelled to be conventional drill, blast, load and haul, the haulage fleet will comprise up to 25, 220 t haul trucks, with optionality being maintained to allow for these trucks to be fully autonomous in the future, OZ Minerals said.

‘True’ zero miners

OZ Minerals is aware of the statement it would make to industry if it were to power all this technology from renewable sources.

“With a future focus on developing a roadmap to 100% renewable generation, and reducing dependency upon fossil fuels over time, West Musgrave will become one of the largest fully off-grid, renewable powered mines in the world,” it said in the updated PFS. “The solution would result in the avoidance of in excess of 220,000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide emissions compared to a fully diesel-powered operation.”

The company’s Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena in South Australia, whose initial setup includes solar PV, battery storage, diesel generation and a micro-grid controller, will provide a test case for this. This is a “unique facility designed to host experiments on how various equipment and energy technologies interact on an operating mine site”, the company says.

Martin and ENGIE Impact agree OZ Minerals is one of many forward-thinking mining companies striving for zero operations with a serious decarbonisation plan.

“The mining projects we are working on are all looking to achieve ‘true’ net zero operations, factoring in no offsets,” he said. “Having said that, I wouldn’t say the use of offsets is an ‘easy out’ for these companies. They can form part of the decarbonisation equation when they have a specific purpose, for instance, in trying to support indigenous communities.”

These industry leaders would do well to communicate with each other on their renewable ambitions, according to Martin. Such collaboration can help them all achieve their goals collectively, as opposed to individually. The coming together of BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden and Thiess for the ‘Charge on Innovation Challenge’ is a good example of this, where the patrons are pooling resources to come up with workable solutions for faster charging of large surface electric mining trucks.

“In the Pilbara, for example, there is a real opportunity to create a decarbonisation masterplan that seeks to capitalise on economies of scale,” he said. “If all the companies work towards that end goal collaboratively, they could achieve it much faster and at a much lower cost than if they go it alone.”

When it comes to OZ Minerals, the miner is clearly open to collaboration, whether it be with ENGIE Impact on decarbonisation, The Electric Mine Consortium with its fellow miners, the recently opened Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena, the EU-funded NEXGEN SIMS project to develop autonomous, carbon-neutral mining processes, or through its various crowd sourcing challenges.