Tag Archives: Electric Vehicles

BHP Ventures backs BluVein’s next gen trolley-charging project

BHP has become the latest company to back BluVein’s “next generation trolley-charging technology” project, with its Ventures arm joining Northern Star Resources, Newcrest Mining, Vale, Glencore, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and OZ Minerals as project partners.

A BHP spokesperson said the collaboration was “part of our multi-faceted approach to reducing vehicle emissions at our operations”.

It is one of several decarbonisation collaborations BHP Ventures is involved with in pursuit of BHP’s decarbonisation goals. Others include partnering on supply chain traceability through Circulor and low emissions steelmaking through Boston Metals.

Back in August, BluVein announced that seven major mining companies had financially backed BluVein, with the industry collaboration project now moving forward with final system development and construction of a technology demonstration pilot site in Brisbane, Australia. This came on top of agreements with four major mining vehicle manufacturers to support BluVein controls and hardware integration into their vehicles.

BluVein, a joint venture between EVIAS and Australia-based Olitek, is developing technology that removes the need to employ battery swapping or acquire larger, heavier batteries customised to cope with the current requirements placed on the heaviest diesel-powered machinery operating in the mining sector.

It is doing this through adapting charging technology originally developed by Sweden-based EVIAS for electrified public highways. The application of this technology in mining could see operations employ smaller, lighter battery-electric vehicles that are connected to the mine site grid via its ingress protection-rated slotted Rail™ system. This system effectively eliminates all exposed high voltage conductors, providing significantly improved safety and ensures compliance with mine electrical regulations, according to BluVein. This is complemented with its Hammer™ technology and a sophisticated power distribution unit to effectively power electric motors and charge a vehicle’s on-board batteries.

BluVein has been specifically designed for harsh mining environments and is completely agnostic to vehicle manufacturer, according to the company. This standardisation is crucial, BluVein says, as it allows a mixed fleet of mining vehicles to use the same rail infrastructure.

BluVein says it plans on starting the trial install early works towards the end of this year for a mid- to late-2022 trial period in a simulated underground environment.

The BluVein project is being managed by the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC).

Hochschild Mining plans electric equipment fleet expansion

Hochschild Mining, in its 2020 sustainability report, has flagged the arrival of further electric vehicles at its mine sites in Latin America as it looks to cut emissions and reduce ventilation requirements at its underground operations.

The company said it has been operating six electric mine vehicles, purchased between 2017 and 2018, at its San Jose narrow-vein silver mine in Argentina for some time. This includes an Aramine L130E miniLoader® (pictured), a 1-2 t capacity electric LHD suitable for narrow-vein mining applications with a 0.5-0.75 cu.m bucket and an operating width of 1,046 mm. The miniLoader L130E is fitted with a cable reel designed for tramming off the mine power grid. The company also has an Aramine L150E tethered-electric LHD in its fleet.

In 2020, Hochschild added a battery-electric vehicle to the mix at its Inmaculada gold-silver narrow-vein operation in Peru.

It said: “In 2020, we piloted the use of the first electric vehicle at Inmaculada for liquid waste management. Working in partnership with our on-site waste management contractor, the project is the first of its kind in Latin America and, if successful, will be scaled up throughout 2021.”

Hochschild told IM that its waste management contractor, Resiter, was operating an Alke ATX 330EH battery-electric off-road light utility vehicle with a flatbed for liquid waste. This vehicle is fitted with a tank and suction motor to be used to clean portable toilets throughout the mine site.

“It is also worth noting that the trials carried out indicate some modifications are needed for it to be able to be used in the irregular surfaces at Inmaculada, and it is still under investigation by the supplier,” the company said.

Hochschild added in the report: “In 2021, we hope to expand our electric fleet with the purchase of electric vehicles for use in larger underground chambers that will not only reduce our carbon footprint but will also cut ventilation costs.”

Ontario launches strategy to encourage development of critical minerals

The Ontario Government says it is developing its first-ever Critical Minerals Strategy to help generate investment, increase the province’s competitiveness in the global market, and create jobs and opportunities in the mining sector.

It will also support Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy both at home and abroad, the government said.

“By developing this strategy, we will strengthen Ontario’s position as one of North America’s premier jurisdictions for responsibly-sourced critical minerals, including rare earth elements,” Greg Rickford (pictured), Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, said. “We are confident this will generate investment, reduce red tape, create jobs and advance Indigenous participation in the sector. Local and global markets, including Ontario-based industries, are looking for reliable, responsibly-sourced critical minerals and we are ready to capitalise on this growing market demand.”

Ontario is well positioned to become a global supplier, producer and manufacturer of choice for certain critical minerals, including, but not limited to nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group elements, the government said.

“Industries across Ontario and around the world need a steady supply of critical minerals to support new technologies and emerging industries, including electric vehicles,” Minister Rickford said. “With the development of a Critical Minerals Strategy, the province can showcase Ontario’s competitive advantage, high mineral development potential and world-class mining sector.”

New technologies and high-growth sectors that rely on critical minerals include information and communications technology, electronics, energy, aerospace and defence, health and life sciences and transportation.

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said: “With an abundance of the critical minerals in Northern Ontario, along with a competitive business climate, innovation and talent, Ontario is well positioned to become a leader in the future of electric vehicle and battery manufacturing.

“In fact, recent proposed investments of almost C$6 billion ($4.7 billion) over the last several months in Ontario’s auto sector will make our province a global hub for EV manufacturing, making us stronger and more resilient as we continue to work towards economic recovery.”

To inform the Critical Minerals Strategy, the province is releasing a discussion paper for public consultation on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. A consultation with industry and Indigenous communities will also help guide the development of the strategy to be released this fall.

Polymetal 2020 profits rise as it accelerates ESG efforts

Polymetal recorded a strong set of financials in 2020, with its revenue, adjusted EBITDA and net earnings metrics all benefitting from higher production volumes and commodity prices.

Revenue increased by 28% year-on-year to $2.87 billion, adjusted EBITDA rose 57% to $1.69 billion and net earnings hit a record $1.09 billion in 2020.

The company’s 2020 gold-equivalent output amounted to 1.56 Moz, a 4% increase year-on-year and 4% above the original production guidance of 1.5 Moz. Strong contributions from its Kyzyl, Varvara and Albazino mines offset a planned grade decline at Voro, as well as lower production at Svetloye, the company said.

While production rose, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity reduced by 4%, Polymetal said. It attributed this to energy efficiency initiatives, switching its mining fleet to electric vehicles, a shift from diesel to grid energy sources and green energy contracts.

Back in December, SMT Scharf AG signed an agreement with Polymetal to develop and produce battery-electric powered LHDs and mid-range underground trucks as prototypes for its gold and silver mines, with these units to be delivered to the company by October 2021.

Polymetal’s environmental, social and governance efforts did not stop there.

In 2020, the company invested $29 million at its Omolon hub in the Magadan region of Russia. This capital expenditure was mainly related to the construction of a dry tailings storage facility and engineering and preparatory works for a 2.5 MW solar plant (due to come online this year). This will be joined by another 5-10 MW solar facility at its Kyzyl operation (Kazakhstan) in 2022.

On its other tailings facilities, Polymetal said: “We operate eight tailings dams in Russia and Kazakhstan; each is rigorously monitored daily. We are confident that any emergency dam failure would have no impact on local communities and employees.

“We welcome the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and have committed to achieving compliance in all operations by 2023.”

In addition to state authority inspections of these facilities, the company conducted an independent third-party audit of its Mayskoye (Chukotka, Russia) tailings site, which was carried out virtually, due to COVID-19 restrictions, by Knight Piésold Ltd. “To further improve tailings safety and minimise the risk of the possibility of dam failure, we are shifting towards dry stack storage methods,” it said.

“Such facilities are already in operation at our Amursk and Voro (pictured filter press) mines, and will be extended to Omolon (2021), Nezhda (2021), POX-2 (2022), Dukat (2024) and Veduga (2025).”

Dafo Li-IonFire tackles electric/hybrid vehicle fire protection

Dafo Vehicle Fire Protection has helped build a fire protection system tailored for operations using electric or hybrid vehicles as part of an EU-funded program.

In partnership with RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Dafo explored different techniques to detect potential battery failure, as early as possible, and take immediate action to stop, or delay, a potentially hazardous situation.

The partners studied the various fire risks related to batteries, including specific risks when charging, and procedures for handling electric vehicles and batteries after a crash. They also investigated to what extent fixed and integrated fire suppression systems, which are widely used to protect combustion engine compartments on heavy vehicles, can be applied to vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, and how they should be designed.

“With the rapid introduction of electric and hybrid electric vehicles in public transport, there are new challenges because they present totally different risk scenarios,” Anders Gulliksson of Dafo Vehicle (pictured), Coordinator of the EU-funded Li-IonFire (Automated e-vehicle Lithium Ion Battery Early Warning and Fire Suppression System) project, said.

Through extensive testing, the Li-IonFire team better understood how a breakdown occurs within the battery and how it can be detected.

“If a system is activated at this early stage, the battery can be ‘brought back’ to a safe state, without the fire developing further,” Gulliksson explained.

“The tests have also shown that even with a late deployment of the fire suppression system, there’s a possibility of delaying the battery reaching a critical state, meaning that the chance of safe evacuation is very high.”

With proper detection and system activation, the hazardous scenario can be reversed and potentially even stopped entirely, according to Dafo.

The project team has, it says, successfully validated and demonstrated a highly innovative fire protection system for electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The new system provides an early fire warning system, and spot cooling to prevent thermal runaway while localising and suppressing fire.

The system was officially unveiled in 2019 and has generated tremendous interest from both end users and vehicle manufacturers, according to Dafo.

“Li-IonFire delivers to the market a product that didn’t exist until now; a system that can offer real protection against battery fires, using a new suppression agent, Forrex EV™, which is specifically developed for these applications,” concluded Gulliksson.

“Li-IonFire will significantly boost the safety of operators and the protection of valuable assets.”

It will be available from September 1, 2020, the company says.

Centamin sets up Sukari for a solar power-fuelled future

Among new projects featured in Centamin’s just-released 2019 sustainability report is the development of a solar power installation that could pump 30 MW AC of renewable energy into the mix at its Sukari gold operation in Egypt.

The Stage 1 30 MW solar plant is expected to replace 18–20 million litres of diesel consumption per year through operation during daylight hours, according to Ross Jerrard, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director.

The bulk of Centamin’s greenhouse gas emissions result from the on-site power generation at Sukari, the company said in the report, with the site powered entirely by heavy fuel oil burning generators consuming over 90–100 million litres of diesel to meet the mine’s electricity needs. MAK and Wartsilla diesel-fired generators, with a combined power of 68 MW, are on site, according to the company.

In 2019, Centamin completed a preliminary study assessing the technical viability of integrating a solar plant at the Sukari mine. The results of the study demonstrated the potential of the project to materially reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and thereby reducing the company’s environmental footprint and operating expenditure, it said.

The study indicated a minimum of 36 MW DC/30 MW AC peak power hybrid solar plant would be the optimal capacity for an initial staged integration to the processing plant. A limited amount of battery storage (7.5 MW) is required to manage start up and shut down surges for integration into the existing site distribution and control systems, with the solar farm scoped over an 85 ha site on the Sukari tenement.

The project will be developed in two phases:

  • Phase one will require the upgrade of Sukari’s high voltage distribution system to prepare the system for connection of large scale solar; and
  • Phase two will be the construction, installation and connection of the solar photo voltaic plant to the Sukari electrical distribution system.

Centamin estimates up to 25% of Sukari’s power needs could be met through solar generation, with the initial 30 MW plant planned to be engineered with the ability to expand the power capacity in the future, if appropriate.

The construction spend for 30 MW is expected to be $37 million, with initial capital of $6 million committed at the end of 2019 to upgrade the high voltage reticulation on site and commence earth-clearing works in the first half of 2020.

Construction was scheduled to commence in 2020, however, as a precautionary move to protect the health and wellbeing of the workforce, non-essential 2020 capital expenditure was temporarily deferred, including the Sukari solar plant.

“This is in order to minimise contractors and other non-operating traffic on and off site, while restrictions related to COVID-19 remain in place,” the company said. Despite this, the company still plans to integrate solar power into the Centamin mine in 2021.

Centamin said it continued to work towards reducing emissions intensity and is in the process of establishing science-induced absolute emissions targets for medium- (2025) and long-term (2030) target years.

Other carbon reduction strategies being considered by the miner include transitioning on-site vehicles to electric vehicles and alternative truck buckets to improve hauling efficiency, it said.

Tembo 4×4 grants ACCÈS to Electric Cruiser in Quebec

ACCÈS is set to bring Tembo 4×4’s Electric Cruiser to the Canada mining market after the two companies recently signed a distribution agreement covering the province of Quebec.

ACCÈS became Tembo 4×4’s first international partner in 2016 when the initial prototype of its Electric Cruiser (pictured) was still on the drawing board, Tembo 4×4 said. Having launched the Electric Cruiser, Tembo 4×4 followed this up, in 2018, with the addition of the Electric HLX.

The Rouyn-Noranda-based dealer will now bring the Electric Cruiser to its clients in Quebec, many of whom come from the mining industry.

Tembo 4×4 e-LVs are available as all-wheel drive in several versions, all based on the Toyota 70 and Hilux series. The vehicles are equipped with a 65 kW electric motor with 250 Nm torque, the Netherlands-based supplier said.

“The temperature-controlled, modular and exchangeable battery provides a range of 80-100 km in proven underground use,” the company said, adding that they are designed for a service life of 15 years, or 8,000 charging cycles (80% depth of discharge), and can charge from 20-80% in two-and-a-half hours.

The electric mining utility vehicles, which are currently in use across Europe, come with on-board 15 kW charger, can reach a maximum speed of 80 km/h, and are able to negotiate inclines of up to 45°, according to Tembo 4×4.

ACCÈS is not the only distributor Tembo 4×4 has signed up for its electric vehicles in strategic mining hubs. Last year, the company signed an agreement with GHH that saw the Germany-based company offer the Electric Cruiser and Electric HLX in Germany, Turkey, Greece, Russia, India, the USA, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the CIS and Latin America.

In Australia, GB Electric Vehicles is the exclusive distributor for the Tembo 4×4 Electric Cruiser and Electric HLX.

The company also has suppliers in Saudi Arabia (FHC – Fire and Hazard Control Equipment Co Ltd), Mongolia (BODIZ INTERNATIONAL GROUP LLC) and Norway (Arctic Trucks Norway).

Ideanomics, Yunnan Energy to promote mining EVs in China, South East Asia

Ideanomics and state-owned Yunnan Energy have signed an agreement to exclusively promote the adoption of electrified heavy trucks, such as those used in mine haulage, in Yunnan province, China, as well as into South East Asia.

The exclusive electric vehicle (EV) agreement also extends to buses, logistics vehicles, and taxis, the company said. It is part of Ideanomics’ MEG division’s S2F2C (Sales-to-Financing-to-Charging) program.

Yunnan province is a mining-rich region extracting commodities like tin, zinc, copper, lead, salt, aluminium, nickel, and more. Ideanomics has previously estimated there are more than 5.7 million heavy-duty mining trucks working in China.

“The JV anticipates leading the China market in this area, and extending its capabilities in China beyond Yunnan province, as well as into the ASEAN region, where Yunnan is the official ‘belt and road’ sponsor and where Ideanomics has an interest in Malaysia’s EV manufacturer Treeletrik,” Ideanomics said.

Additionally, the parties will establish a development fund with resources from Yunnan province with two key objectives:

  • EV acquisition to include an operational company for the benefit of the leasor; and
  • Investment into cleantech mobile energy related projects identified by the joint venture, including investment into the construction and management of power grid infrastructure in south Asia and South East Asia to deliver the fast-charging and energy storage solutions required to support the EV industry.

Alf Poor, CEO of Ideanomics, said: “Yunnan province is an important keystone province, due to its extensive mining activities and its position as the sponsor for China’s Belt and Road activities in South East Asia. This agreement, an extension to our recently announced Taxi deal, brings together Ideanomics’ MEG division and Yunnan province with a shared objective of enabling commercial EV at scale in China and the ASEAN region.

“Together with the team at Yunnan Energy, we have developed objectives to significantly accelerate commercial EV adoption in China and South East Asia, and to invest in technologies and operating companies that make clean mobile energy a viable proposition.”

Ideanomics will begin cooperation with Yunnan Energy immediately and expects to have its joint venture operational in early-2020. Yunnan Energy and MEG will provide the management resources for the JV, leveraging existing personnel in both organisations.

Ideanomics’ MEG division operates in four key segments of commercial EVs – heavy duty commercial vehicles for closed area environments, such as mining, steel mills, airports and seaports; light commercial last-mile logistics vehicles; buses and coaches; and taxis.

Terrafame to go ahead with nickel-cobalt sulphate plant in Sotkamo, Finland

Terrafame is to build a battery chemicals plant in Sotkamo, Finland, after finding the €240 million ($273 million) it needs to build the nickel-cobalt facility.

Terrafame, which took over the zinc-nickel-cobalt mine following the bankruptcy of former owner Talvivaara, said it intends to have the plant completed at the end of 2020 and commercial production started in 2021. Back in July, the company received permitting permission for the plant.

“The intention of the investment is the further processing of Terrafame’s current main product nickel-cobalt sulphide into nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate, used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries,” Terrafame said.

The production capacity of the battery chemicals plant will be 170,000 t/y of nickel sulphate and 7,400 t/y of cobalt sulphate. This amount of nickel sulphate should prove to be enough to produce around 1 million/y electric vehicle batteries, with the cobalt sulphate enough to cover around 300,000/y.

Outotec is to supply the pressure leaching technology for the battery chemicals plant, with the contract including the planning of the leaching technology area, the supply of key equipment, and installation supervision and training services.

Pressure leaching is the first of the three main phases of the battery chemicals plant. During the pressure leaching, nickel-cobalt sulphide, which is Terrafame’s current main product, is first placed in a elutriating unit, where it is mixed with the process water. The slurry is then fed into an autoclave (ie a pressure leaching reactor, with a raised pressure and temperature) to produce a metal sulphate solution. After thickening and filtration, the solution is directed for further refining and finally for the production of battery chemicals.

Outotec has been involved in Terrafame’s battery chemicals plant project since the prefeasibility study phase. Construction of the electric vehicle battery chemicals plant is due to begin in the first half of 2019, with deliveries of pressure leaching technology estimated to begin in early 2020.

A funding package of $200 million related to the financing of the plant project was agreed by Terrafame, Finnish Minerals Group (previously Terrafame Group Ltd), Galena Asset Management, Trafigura Group and Sampo plc back in November 2017. In connection with the plant’s final investment decision, the parties have agreed on an additional funding package of approximately €100 million, Terrafame said.

Matti Hietanen, CEO of Finnish Minerals Group (which currently owns 77% of Terrafame and is wholly owned by the Finnish government), said: “This is a very important investment for Terrafame and its owners as well as the whole Finnish and European electric vehicle battery manufacturing value chain. Terrafame’s investment also improves the conditions for attracting more operators in the battery manufacturing value chain to Finland.”

Mika Lintilä, the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, said the Finnish state was willing to do its part in advancing the development of the Finnish battery production value chain “and to take forward the necessary efforts in research & development, operating conditions of businesses as well as investments”.

This week, BASF selected Harjavalta, Finland, as the first location for a battery materials production hub serving the European automotive market.

Caterpillar investment arm backs electric vehicle and solid-state battery tech firm

Fisker Inc, an e-mobility and technology company developing electric vehicles and proprietary solid-state battery technologies, has announced a strategic investment from Caterpillar’s wholly owned subsidiary, Caterpillar Venture Capital Inc.

Fisker said Caterpillar Ventures’ investment illustrates a “mutually recognised importance that electrification solutions will represent to multiple business segments in the future. While Caterpillar and Fisker serve fundamentally different industries, advancements in electrification technologies pose increasing importance and offer the potential to positively impact customer value for the right products”.

Fisker says its solid-state batteries present the next generation, post lithium-ion era, of future battery technologies. They offer bulk electrodes with high energy densities, enhanced safety, faster charge times and lower costs, according to the company.

The company’s scientific breakthroughs include the patent-pending Fisker Flexible Solid-State Battery, which, Fisker says, is set to usher in a new era in fast charging, safety, range and costs of less than $100/kWh.

Fisker is the brainchild of EV pioneer and leading automotive designer Henrik Fisker.

Caterpillar Ventures’ focus areas of investment, meanwhile, include robotics, energy, advanced materials, and digital solutions that help its customers. Earlier this year, it invested, for the second time, in MineSense Technologies, a company focused on real-time, sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions for large-scale mines.