Tag Archives: greenhouse gas emissions

Shell on the future of fuel switching

Mark Hannan, General Manager for Mining Decarbonisation at Shell, explores how mining operators can switch their fleets from diesel to low-carbon fuels as part of a wider transition to zero-carbon fuels.

The mining industry is in need of decarbonisation but delivering change at pace is a real challenge. There is huge pressure to achieve this when, it is estimated, 10% of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from primary minerals and metals production, according to Nature Geoscience Magazine (2020).

For a mining company to achieve their decarbonisation goals, it is beneficial to maximise the benefits in the short term while providing greater flexibility for the long term. One such area that offers opportunities for this is fuel switching in mining fleets.

Decarbonisation drives the need for alternative fuels

No matter what stage a mining business has reached on its pathway to decarbonisation, it is important to review how its mobile assets impact the environment. McKinsey shows that between 40-50% of CO2 emissions in mining come from the diesel used for mobile assets.

Due to concerns around diesel fumes in confined spaces, the problem is largely being solved in underground sites – with some due to run entirely on battery-electric assets in the near term. In open-pit mines, where equipment is larger, emissions from diesel fuel are a challenge still to overcome, which is why fuel switching is essential to decarbonisation.

However, there are still many elements to consider when making the business case for alternative fuels. This includes the performance of alternative fuels in comparison with diesel, the capital investment needed to implement them and how widely available they are. That is before analysing the benefits of meeting emissions targets against the higher cost of using low-carbon fuels.

A net-zero future is coming, but it is not here yet

In the longer term, there are two diesel alternatives that will offer key routes to effective fuel switching: hydrogen and electricity.

Hydrogen is set to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of every industry – not least those featuring hard-to-abate sectors like mining. As well as reducing emissions in overall energy use across sites, hydrogen will provide a low-carbon alternative to diesel that also delivers higher energy density to drive the performance of mobile assets.

Government support for hydrogen power is growing rapidly and it is an area in which Shell is working closely with customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to drive innovation and deliver supply at scale. However, with hydrogen supply dependent on elements such as the availability and cost of technology, land, water, storage and transport, it is an alternative that will only start to present real impact from 2030 and beyond.

For off-highway equipment in mining, fleet electrification is often seen as a more relevant near-term solution. This is not surprising as electric power can not only contribute to reduced emissions but also help businesses shift away from their exposure to volatile diesel prices – potentially leading to a positive impact on total cost of ownership (TCO).

To help deliver on the mining industry’s longer-term aspirations for fleet electrification, Shell is developing a suite of modular end-to-end solutions for mining heavy-duty vehicles that decarbonises haul trucks while minimising the operational impact of electrification in a scalable, interoperable and sustainable way.

When looking to make the switch to electrification, mining companies must address the significant escalation in power demand that would come with full-scale electrification. Also, they will want to know the electricity is generated from renewable sources – helping them to reduce their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Electrification powered by renewable energy will be a significant driver of change for mining sites, which is why Shell is working to overcome the barriers to increasing its renewable capacity – such as the need for upgrades to the grid and storage capabilities.

Low-carbon fuels offer an immediate next step for mining businesses

Hydrogen and electrification represent the future of fuel for mobility in mining. But, in the short term, there is another alternative that can act as a transition fuel and help lower emissions while businesses wait for hydrogen and electricity to become viable at scale: low-carbon fuels.

There are two types of low-carbon fuels relevant to mobility in mining:

  • Biodiesel – also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME); and
  • Renewable diesel – also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)

Though both are derived from organic biomass like waste vegetable oils and animal fats, there are differences in their chemical composition owing to a different manufacturing process that impact their use. For instance, biodiesel is the more affordable choice, yet most OEMs place a limit on the percentage it is possible to blend with conventional diesel due to quality concerns such as storage stability and performance in cold temperatures. Renewable diesel more closely resembles the composition of conventional diesel, meaning it can be blended in any ratio up to a concentration of 100%, but is more expensive due to the complexity in refinery processing. Crucially, both fuels offer a route to emissions reduction in mining – and a combination of the two is likely to be needed.

These low-carbon fuels offer a more immediate solution to the challenges of fleet decarbonisation in mining, without making costly investments in infrastructure. Not only can they be used in existing heavy-duty diesel engines, but, as long as they are in accordance with manufacturer advice, they also require no infrastructure investment. This makes them a more affordable short-term option that enables businesses to reduce emissions today while working to implement the ecosystem needed to transition to hydrogen and electricity tomorrow.

Overcoming the challenges of availability at scale

The merits of low-carbon fuels for a sites’ mobility needs might already be clear. After all, the technology is mature and it is easy to implement – certainly compared with hydrogen and electricity. However, there are still barriers to overcome before we see widespread adoption in the mining industry.

Availability and affordability are the two critical challenges. Despite its maturity, supply of low-carbon fuels is tight – especially given the remote regions that mining operations usually take place in. The need to comply with regional regulations on renewable fuels is also driving rising demand. For example, the EU Commission’s renewable energy directive has proposed increasing its target for renewable energy sources consumption by 2030 to 45% (up from its current goal of 32%).

Also, mining is not the only sector looking to alternative fuels to drive decarbonisation, meaning businesses will need to compete and trade with areas like commercial road transport to source low-carbon options. With more users needing access to alternative fuels, premiums for low-carbon fuels remain high. This can make low-carbon fuels less affordable and risks undermining any TCO improvements businesses can expect to realise from fuel switching.

It means that businesses are hesitant to act today as they wait for more capacity and greater competition to arrive – even though mining cannot afford to delay its emissions reduction efforts. That is why, at Shell, we are working to deliver additional capacity and competition. As well as investing in new production facilities (including a new biofuels facility in the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam, which will produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel made from waste in The Netherlands once it comes onstream), we are using our existing relationships with OEMs to help mining businesses get the most out of the low-carbon fuels they do have access to.

Collaboration will be critical to fuel switching success

Ultimately, if mining businesses are to meet their regulatory responsibilities while driving performance, they will need to unlock the opportunity that fuel switching provides. From low-carbon fuels to electrification to hydrogen, there is huge potential to reduce emissions while improving the TCO of mining mobility.

Successful fuel switching will require close collaboration with partners and suppliers to create a new fuel ecosystem by improving the availability and affordability of alternatives to conventional diesel. Only by working together will we deliver a new fuel future for mining, which is why Shell Mining is committed to supporting the industry on every step of its decarbonisation journey.

Photo credit: Getty Images

BHP to receive ‘world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts’ from China’s Wuxi Boton

China’s Wuxi Boton has announced the world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts for delivery to BHP’s Spence copper mine in Chile in August as part of an exclusive pilot project between the two companies.

The two companies jointly developed this pilot project, under which the conveyor belts were verified by SGS, a leading testing, inspection and certification company, as meeting the requirements of PAS 2060:2014 (specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality).

SGS awarded the world’s first certificate of “Achievement of Carbon Neutrality for Steel Cord Rubber Conveyor Belt” to a batch of belts produced by Boton for BHP. The conveyor belts will be shipped to BHP’s Spence copper mine, where they will be used in the production and transportation of Spence mining products to customers around the world, including China.

The scope of the pilot project was for Wuxi Boton, as the incumbent contractor for BHP’s operations at both Minerals Australia and Minerals America, to select the conveyor belts to be ordered by BHP and identify how to offset the estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production of those conveyor belts using high-quality carbon offsets prior to delivery.

BHP’s Group Procurement Officer, James Agar, said: “Wuxi Boton have been a reliable partner to BHP for over eight years, supplying high-quality conveyor belts to our assets in Australia and Chile. Both companies are committed to mitigating climate change in accordance with their respective climate targets and goals. This shared vision of a better world led Wuxi Boton, in December 2021, to extend the offer of an exclusive pilot to deliver a carbon neutral conveyor belt to BHP.

“The partnership with Wuxi Boton has been invaluable in helping BHP verify the feasibility of using high-quality carbon offsets to GHG emissions in our supply chain (Scope 3) and grow the potential demand for supplying ‘traced’, ‘low carbon’, or ‘carbon neutral’ products amongst our suppliers.”

Wuxi Boton’s Chairman, Zhifang Bao, said: “It is difficult for any enterprise to achieve low-carbon transformation on its own. Only by building a global platform, co-operating with the whole industry chain, and jointly exploring low-carbon technologies and road maps can we reach the other shore.

“Therefore, joint innovation is an inevitable choice. Instead of passively accepting, it is better to take the initiative to lead, which is a very important choice faced by enterprises all over the world. We are pleased to see that the partnership between BHP and Boton has expanded from a single business level to a strategic synergy level. In the journey of global energy transition, leading companies, including Boton and BHP, are jointly working towards building a more sustainable future.”

BHP achieves shipping first as it extends funding for steelmaking decarbonisation

BHP has welcomed the arrival of MV Mt. Tourmaline – the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carrier – that will transport iron ore between Western Australia and Asia from 2022.

The mining company has chartered five LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers from Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) for five years and awarded the LNG fuel contract to Shell.

On her maiden voyage, the vessel arrived at Jurong Port in Singapore for her first LNG bunkering operation (the process of fuelling ships with LNG) which will take place through the first LNG bunker vessel in Singapore, the FueLNG Bellina. FueLNG, a joint venture between Shell Eastern Petroleum and Keppel Offshore & Marine, operates the bunker vessel.

After LNG bunkering, the 209,000-deadweight tonne vessel will leave for Port Hedland in Western Australia for iron ore loading operations.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “BHP works with our suppliers to embed innovative and sustainable solutions in our supply chain. This vessel delivers significant improvements to energy efficiency and emissions intensity, as well as reduced overall GHG emissions in our value chain. These achievements demonstrate BHP, EPS and Shell’s shared commitment to social value through innovative emissions reduction initiatives.

“These LNG-fuelled vessels are expected to reduce GHG emissions intensity by more than 30% on a per voyage basis compared to a conventional fuelled voyage and will contribute towards our 2030 goal to support 40% emissions intensity reduction of BHP-chartered shipping of our products.”

EPS CEO, Cyril Ducau, said: “Today’s historic LNG bunkering is further evidence that the industry’s energy transition is in full swing. These dual-fuel LNG Newcastlemax vessels are a world’s first, but more importantly, they represent a culture shift in shipping and mining.”

In a separate announcement, BHP confirmed it would extend its partnership with the Centre for Ironmaking Materials Research (CIMR) at the University of Newcastle with a further A$10 million ($7 million) in funding to support ongoing research into decarbonising steelmaking.

The expanded research program will focus on low carbon iron and steelmaking using BHP’s iron ore and metallurgical coal, including conventional blast furnace ironmaking with the addition of hydrogen, and emerging alternative low carbon ironmaking technologies.

The collaboration, with funding from BHP’s $400 million Climate Investment Program, will last five years and help train the next generation of PhD researchers and engineers.

Dr Rod Dukino, BHP VP Sales & Marketing Iron Ore, said: “Greenhouse gas emissions from steelmaking represent around 7-10% of global total estimated emissions and the industry remains one of the most difficult sectors in the world to abate. Research and innovation have a critical role to play in accelerating the industry’s transition to a low carbon future.

“The expanded research program with the University of Newcastle complements BHP’s existing partnerships with our key steelmaking customers in China, Japan and South Korea. We are pursuing the long-term goal of net zero Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 20501. Recognising the particular challenge of a net zero pathway for this hard-to-abate sector, we are continuing to partner with customers and others in the steel value chain to seek to accelerate the transition to carbon neutral steelmaking.”

Orica to install tertiary catalyst abatement tech at Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate plant

Orica has announced plans to install an Australia industry first tertiary catalyst abatement technology, EnviNOx®, at its Kooragang Island manufacturing plant in New South Wales.

The technology, provided by thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, is designed to deliver up to 95% abatement efficiency, reducing the site’s total greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50%, Orica said.

The A$37 million ($27 million) spent on the Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project, which will help accelerate Orica’s progress towards achieving its 2030 emissions reduction target, will see proven nitrous oxide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tertiary abatement technology installed at its Kooragang Island plant from 2022, with commissioning in 2023, Orica said.

To facilitate the project, the New South Wales Government’s Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program will co-invest A$13.06 million, together with Orica’s A$24 million, financed by a five-year debt facility provided by the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The Clean Energy Regulator has also approved the project as eligible to generate Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).

Viewed as a long-term aid for emissions reduction in high-pressure nitric acid manufacturing plants, the tertiary catalyst abatement technology uses catalytic decomposition to destroy nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide, generated as a by-product of nitric acid production, is the primary source of GHG emissions at the Kooragang Island facility.

The technology will be installed across all three nitric acid manufacturing plants used in the production of ammonium nitrate at Kooragang Island. It is designed to eliminate at least 567,000 t/y of CO2e from the site’s operations, with expectations of reducing the site’s total emissions by 48%, while delivering a cumulative emissions reduction of at least 4.7 Mt of CO2e by 2030 based on forecast production.

Orica Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “The Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project is a powerful example of a public-private partnership towards decarbonisation and marks a critical step in achieving our medium-term 2030 emissions reduction targets and progress towards our net zero ambition. We’re committed to working with our stakeholders to forge a pathway towards a lower carbon future together.

“Thanks to the support of the New South Wales and Federal Governments we have been able to co-invest and move forward on implementing a significant decarbonisation project.”

New South Wales Treasurer, and Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, said: “This is a great example of what can be achieved by hard-to-abate industries transitioning towards net zero emissions, under our A$750 million Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program announced earlier this year.”

Gandhi added: “The project ensures our domestic manufacturing operations remain competitive in a low carbon economy, bringing with it significant environment and regional economic and social benefits. There are also benefits for our customers, by reducing the emissions intensity of our ammonium nitrate we are in a position to offer competitive and lower carbon-intensity ammonium nitrate products, helping them to achieve their sustainability goals.

“It also allows us to look at longer-term investments in technologies, including production of hydrogen from renewable energy.”

The Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project was approved in March 2021 by the Clean Energy Regulator to participate in Australia’s carbon market. Orica is eligible to generate ACCUs and was awarded the first optional Carbon Abatement Contract under the Facility Method for the purchase of around 3.4 million ACCUs by the Australian Government. This approach has enabled investment confidence by managing ACCU price risk, it said.

The findings from the Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project will serve as an important Australian industry case study, demonstrating the potential for tertiary catalyst abatement technology to be deployed more widely across the sector, Orica said.

Orica has also recently partnered with the Alberta Government in Canada to commission a similar tertiary catalyst abatement technology at its Carseland ammonium nitrate manufacturing, reducing emissions by approximately 83,000 t/y of CO2e. It has also assigned approximately A$45 million over the next five years in capital to deploy similar tertiary abatement technology across its Australian ammonium nitrate sites, including its Kooragang Island site.

Orica addresses Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in latest GHG reduction pledge

Orica has announced its ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, covering Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its most “material” Scope 3 GHG emission sources.

The ambition builds on Orica’s previously announced medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

To advance its net zero emissions ambition, Orica says it will:

  • Continue to reduce its operational footprint: prioritising Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions reductions by deploying tertiary catalyst abatement technology, sourcing renewable energy and optimising energy efficiency and industrial processes;
  • Collaborate with its suppliers: as new and emerging technologies scale and become commercial, partner with suppliers to source lower emissions intensity ammonium nitrate (AN) and ammonia to reduce Orica’s Scope 3 emissions, which account for approximately 70% of Orica’s total Scope 3 emissions;
  • Prioritise lower carbon solutions: developing lower carbon AN, as well as new products, services and technology offerings to help customers achieve their own sustainability goals; and
  • Report progress: transparently disclose performance consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure.

Orica Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “Our ambition of net zero emissions by 2050 shows our commitment to playing a part in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is a strong signal that the decarbonisation of Orica will, and must, continue beyond 2030 and requires a collaborative approach across all of our stakeholders.

“We’re making solid progress having already achieved a 9% emissions reduction in financial year 2020 (to June 30, 2020) and further reductions this financial year. We’ve taken our 2030 medium-term target and extended our planning over the long term, developing a credible roadmap to support our ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“Over the next decade, Orica is deploying tertiary catalyst abatement, prioritising renewable energy opportunities and supporting a trial of carbon capture utilisation and storage technology. Beyond 2030, how we achieve our ambition is dependent on effective global policy frameworks, supportive regulation and financial incentives, and access to new and emerging technologies operating at commercial scale.

“Orica is a company with a long history of technical innovation which is already helping our customers improve mine site safety, productivity and efficiency. We will apply the same approach by deploying low-emissions technologies to our major manufacturing sites and working with our global suppliers and stakeholders on reducing the footprint of our supply chain.”

Orica says it has already undertaken several initiatives to drive action towards its medium-term target and support its 2050 net zero emissions ambition.

In FY2020, Orica’s Bontang AN manufacturing facility in Indonesia recorded a 43% reduction in net emissions and its Kooragang Island nitrates manufacturing plant (pictured below) in Australia achieved a 6.3% reduction in net emissions, by replacing and improving the performance of selective catalyst abatement technologies, the company said.

In partnership with the Alberta Government this year, Orica’s Carseland AN manufacturing facility in Canada has commissioned tertiary catalyst abatement technology, reducing emissions by approximately 83,000 t/y of CO2e.

Orica has assigned approximately A$45 million ($33 million) over the next five years in capital to deploy similar tertiary abatement technology across its Australian AN sites, which, it says, could deliver an annual reduction of 750,000 t CO2e.

Orica will also support the construction of a mobile demonstration plant of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology at its Kooragang Island manufacturing facility, led by Mineral Carbonation International, in partnership with the Australian Government and the University of Newcastle. The plant is scheduled to be built on Orica’s Kooragang Island site by the end of 2023 and have direct access to some 250,000 t of captured CO2 from Orica’s manufacturing operations.

ICMM members pledge to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050 or sooner

Members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) have committed to a goal of net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

This landmark commitment was made in an open letter signed by the CEOs of ICMM’s company members.

Although the companies within ICMM have individual decarbonisation targets, which in some cases go beyond ICMM’s collective commitment, this represents a joint ambition.

“The rate and nature of the ultimate decline in emissions will vary across the different commodities and geographies represented by our diverse membership,” the ICMM says. “Yet our approach to individually setting and meeting targets will be consistent and include the following, no later than the end of 2023 where these do not already exist:

  • “Setting Scope 1 and 2 targets: we will build clear pathways to achieving net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner, through meaningful short and/or medium-term target;
  • “Accelerating action on Scope 3 GHG emissions: we recognise that Scope 3 is critical to minimising our overall impact and we will set Scope 3 targets, if not by the end of 2023, as soon as possible. Although all Scope 3 action depends on the combined efforts of producers, suppliers and customers, some commodities face greater technological and collaborative barriers than others. We will play a leading role in overcoming these barriers and advancing partnerships that enable credible target setting and emission reductions across value chains;
  • “Covering all material sources: our targets will cover all material sources of emissions, aligning to the GHG Protocol definition of organisational boundaries and materiality;
  • “Focusing on absolute reductions: for some operations, intensity rather than absolute targets may be more appropriate in the short and medium term. Where intensity targets are used, we will disclose the corresponding absolute increase or decrease in GHG emissions;
  • “Applying robust methodologies: we will use target-setting methodologies that are aligned with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and disclose in detail the assumptions we use; and
  • “Disclosing openly and transparently: we will report our progress on Scopes 1, 2 and 3 annually, obtain external verification over our performance, and report in alignment with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.”

These commitments are additional to and have been incorporated into an update of ICMM’s Climate Change Position Statement which had several pre-existing commitments on performance and disclosure. Action on climate change is an integral part of ICMM’s Mining Principles, representing the comprehensive commitment to a responsible mining and metals industry, it says.

Rohitesh Dhawan, CEO, ICMM, said: “As the suppliers of the minerals and metals that are critical to decarbonisation and sustainable development, we have a particular responsibility to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment. ICMM members’ collective commitment to net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2050 is a pivotal moment in our history. We are speaking with one voice, representing approximately one third of the global mining and metals industry – including more than 650 sites in over 50 countries – so that we drive emissions reduction at a significant scale.

“ICMM members have and will continue to set meaningful short and/or medium-term targets to build clear pathways to achieving this goal, while also accelerating action on addressing Scope 3 emissions and enhancing disclosure. We encourage other mining and metals companies, suppliers and customers to join us in decarbonising commodity value chains so that we collectively accelerate climate action in our wider industry.”

Gonzalo Muñoz, UNFCCC High Level Climate Action Champion, added: “I welcome the leadership and joint ambition of ICMM members to commit to a goal of net-zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner, and I strongly encourage companies to set scope 3 GHG emissions reduction targets by the end of 2023. The High-Level Climate Action Champions encourage members to strive to set the most ambitious science-based targets possible in line with the criteria of the Race to Zero campaign.”

Komatsu teams with Rio, BHP, Codelco and Boliden on zero-emission mining solutions

Working together to rapidly innovate in support of carbon reduction targets, Komatsu has teamed up with several of its customers to form the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance.

The founding members of the alliance are Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco and Boliden.

Through the alliance framework, Komatsu’s GHG partners will work directly with Komatsu to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure, the OEM said. The alliance’s initial target is advancing Komatsu’s power-agnostic truck concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources including diesel-electric, electric, trolley (wired), battery power and even hydrogen fuel cells.

“We are honoured that our customers, several of the largest mining companies in the world, have agreed to participate in the Komatsu GHG Alliance and work in partnership with us to develop sustainable solutions for mining,” Masayuki Moriyama, President of Komatsu’s Mining Business Division, said. “We look forward to close collaboration with these industry leaders to accelerate development and deployment of the next level of equipment designed to reduce greenhouse gases from mining operations and ultimately achieve the goal of zero-emission mining.”

The formation of the alliance brings together mining leaders willing to share time, resources and information to deliver zero-emissions equipment solutions, Komatsu said. The company intends to expand the alliance to additional mining companies to enhance industry-wide collaboration on solutions to decarbonisation.

In a separate release, Rio Tinto said it will conduct a pre-production trial of the new equipment at a site and has the option to purchase some of the first trucks from Komatsu once they are commercially viable.

Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Rio Tinto and Komatsu have a shared history of partnership on innovation going back to when we built the world’s largest Komatsu autonomous haulage fleet in 2008.

“Our support of a trial, and the option to buy some of the first trucks from Komatsu, underscores our shared commitment to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure as we look to decarbonise our business.”

As a company, Komatsu, meanwhile, says it is committed to minimising environmental impact through its business, targeting a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from use of its products and production of its equipment by 2030 (compared with 2010 levels) and a challenge target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Komatsu has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for customers through product development for decades in many areas including electric diesel dump trucks, electric power shovels, regenerative energy storage capabilities and fuel saver programs, it said.

The company’s initial concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources, part of the power-agnostic development, is set to make its official debut at MINExpo 2021 on September 13-15 in Las Vegas, USA.

OceanaGold and Beca come up with decarbonisation pathway for Macraes

OceanaGold has enlisted the help of independent advisory, design and engineering consultancy Beca to reduce emissions at its Macraes gold mine in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Beca developed an Energy Transition Acceleration (ETA) study to provides a pathway to a greener future at the mine, which produced over 172,000 oz/y of gold and employs more than 600 people. Macraes is New Zealand’s largest mine.

“As participants in the New Zealand government’s ETA program, OceanaGold are focused on reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at their Macraes site to not only improve the sustainability of their product, but also reduce their energy costs,” Beca said.

“That’s where Beca entered the picture. As program partners with the ETA, our industrial sustainability and engineering teams worked closely with OceanaGold management to develop an Energy Transition Accelerator study that identified a practical emissions reduction pathway for their business.”

The Macraes operation consists of a large-scale surface mine, an underground mine, and an adjacent process plant inclusive of an autoclave for pressure oxidation of the ore. Its annualised gold production is split approximately 75% to open-pit production and about 25% underground production.

Key opportunities for reducing the GHG emissions include harnessing waste heat recovery; fuel switching; solar lighting towers; electric elution hot water heating; battery-powered electric haulage trucks; and electrification of excavators.

“Taken together, these practical abatement measures can reduce emissions from the Macraes gold mine by a substantial 37%, whilst additional measures – such as the use of renewable energy sources on site – could increase this figure to 59%,” Beca said.

With the study now complete, Beca says it is ready to support OceanaGold in implementing the identified recommendations over coming years – with some of these options also applicable to its Waihi mine on the North Island of New Zealand.

BluVein charges into mine electrification space

BluVein, armed with its “dynamic charging” philosophy, is pitching a different option to miners looking to electrify their underground operations over the long term.

While battery-electric machines such as light utility vehicles, mobile mining support equipment, and low-to-medium tonnage LHDs and trucks have spread throughout major mining hubs like North America, Europe and Australia, the next step is electrifying the machines with the heaviest duties in the underground mining space.

If the sector settles for battery-electric options in this weight class for uphill haulage scenarios, they will need to leverage bigger batteries, more battery swapping or some additional charging infrastructure to power vehicles up ramp.

Two of the leading mining OEMs in the electrification space are considering all the above.

Sandvik, through its wholly owned Artisan Vehicles subsidiary, is developing a 65 t payload battery-electric haul truck with a bigger battery than its 50-t vehicle (the Z50) that will see quick battery swapping employed on uphill hauls, while Epiroc is weighing the potential of fully-electric operation with a battery and trolley combination in its larger payload class trucks.

BluVein is intent on laying the groundwork for multiple OEMs and mining companies to play in this space without 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 underground 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 Rail™ and Hammer™ technology and a sophisticated power distribution unit to effectively power electric motors and charge a vehicle’s on-board batteries.

This flexible technology is set for a trial later this year, with the company – a joint venture between EVIAS and Australia-based Olitek – already busy behind the scenes enlisting a number of funding partners to push forward with a collaborative pilot aimed at demonstrating the next generation of trolley assist technology.

With this aim in mind and knowledge of previous trolley projects at underground mines, IM put some questions to BluVein Founder, James Oliver.

IM: What input does Olitek provide within BluVein? Do they produce customised prototype battery-electric machines?

JO: BluVein is a new company formed through a partnership between EVIAS and Olitek. While we are a new venture, unlike traditional start-ups, BluVein is backed by two highly experienced long-standing companies and is seeking to enable the fully-electric mine of today.

The biggest need for electric mining vehicles is in heavy-duty load and haul applications on inclined roads. In this instance, batteries on their own are not up to the task – not even close. Dynamic charging is the game-changing technology that will enable fully-electric heavy-duty load and haul on inclined roads.

In the partnership, Olitek provides the mobile vehicle, robotics, electrical and mining environment expertise to enable BluVein to operate safely and reliably in a mining environment. BluVein is currently working with a number of mining vehicle OEMs to integrate the BluVein system to suit their on-board battery and motor architecture, enabling safe dynamic charging from a standardised slotted rail system.

The joint venture does not produce customised prototype battery-electric vehicles or battery machines, and we are vehicle OEM-agnostic; we are open to working with any battery-electric vehicle manufacturer enabling standardised dynamic charging.

IM: What companies are involved in the collaboration mentioned? What is the aim of this collaboration (timelines, goals, etc)?

JO: Currently we are not able to disclose which mining companies and vehicle OEMs we are working with – it will be revealed in the not-too-distant future. They are, however, a selection of very well-known major companies from Sweden, Canada and Australia. We are open to other like-minded, early adopters to join the BluVein collaboration.

Our aim is to commence building our industry-backed technology demonstration pilot site in Brisbane, Australia, by late 2021 in a simulated underground environment. This will involve a section of BluVein rail and at least one electric vehicle fitted with the BluVein hammer system to demonstrate dynamic charging whilst hauling loaded up an incline.

IM: What are your overhead systems (BluVein Rail) providing that your typical underground trolley systems are not providing? How does the infrastructure required compare with, say, what Vale has in place at Creighton and Coleman in Sudbury for its Kiruna trucks?

JO: Existing trolley assist systems that utilise exposed high voltage conductors cannot be used in many mining jurisdictions globally due to safety concerns and an inability to comply with mining regulations. This is particularly the case in underground mines where clearance above mobile fleets is limited. The BluVein rail system is unique as all high voltage conductors are safely housed within ingress protection (IP) rated slots. This effectively mitigates against risks of accidental contact by mining personnel or the vehicles.

The safe and standardised systems allow for the charging of a vehicle’s batteries whilst simultaneously powering the electric-drive motors. This gives a battery-electric vehicle almost unlimited range and eliminates the requirement for battery swapping, downtime and charge bay infrastructure requirements.

Volvo FMX Electric with BluVein

And BluVein Rail does not need to be installed in all parts of the mine – only in the heavy-duty cycle zones such as mine declines and pit ramps. When tramming/hauling on flat gradients, mining vehicles operate on their own internal batteries. This dramatically reduces the system installation complexity and installation cost. Where the BluVein Rail terminates, the vehicle automatically disconnects and reverts to its on-board batteries for power, without stopping.

Ease of maintenance is one of our focus points for BluVein. The BluVein system is developed to handle typical mining drive terrain conditions so no special maintenance is required to cater for conductor contact relative to the vehicle. Our BluVein Hammer, an all-terrain trolley, takes care of this. This provides the connection between the mobile machinery and the BluVein slotted rail. As the vehicle moves through an inclined underground tunnel or along a pit ramp, the Hammer maintains the electrical connection even over rough road conditions. Operator assist controls, such as smart auto connect and disconnect functionality, are also incorporated.

BluVein is the ‘next generation’ of trolley assist technology with all the benefits and none of the negatives of the old systems.

IM: How long and steep an uphill climb is required, on average, to make the business case work in the favour of BluVein technology over your typical battery-only system? When does the TCO equation tip in favour of your solutions over other trolley systems on the market?

JO: Typical battery systems are super high cost when you consider the full impact of charge bay infrastructure, numerous large operating batteries per vehicle and rapid battery life decay. BluVein, however, has a relatively low capital cost in comparison as it enables smaller, lighter and lower power on-board batteries to be used that never require swapping or static charging.

Therefore, from day one, the TCO for BluVein will likely be favourable compared to typical battery-only systems, regardless of haul length.

IM: Are BluVein Hammer or BluVein Rail already installed at mine sites around the world? What models of machines have they been integrated on?

JO: The underlying technology for the BluVein Rail and Hammer has been developed over the past 11 years with EVIAS for electrified highways. BluVein is the adaptation of this technology specific to the harsh conditions found within mining.

The BluVein system has been designed to suit nearly all current mining battery-electric vehicles so that a single BluVein Rail installed in a mine can power the entire fleet, even if that fleet is comprised of mixed OEM machinery.

A working EVIAS system has been installed in an open highway setting in Sweden, but no mining applications exist at this point. As mentioned, BluVein will have a pilot site underway by the end of 2021.

IM: Given a Volvo TA15 all-electric hauler is pictured on your website, are you also working with open-pit miners on this collaboration?

JO: BluVein is not just suited to underground applications, however, initially that is the focus given the urgency around eradicating diesel emissions and particulate matter and its carcinogenic properties.

BluVein pilot site concept – simulated underground

BluVein has strong application in open-pit mining and in quarry environments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve productivity and costs. The technology can leverage all the same advantages seen underground in open-pit applications. The bonus with underground is we have free infrastructure to hang the rail from.

A number of our partner mining companies are assessing the BluVein system for both surface and underground deployments.

Suncor backs Svante and its carbon dioxide capture technology

Suncor has backed the decarbonisation and hydrogen production ambitions of carbon capture technology company Svante, joining a number of firms in its latest equity raising.

Svante is looking to accelerate the commercialisation of its novel second generation CO2 capture technology, aiming to decarbonise industrial emissions and hydrogen production in North America. Its technology, Svante claims, captures carbon dioxide from flue gas, concentrates it, then releases it for safe storage or industrial use.

Combined, Suncor and a number of family office investors have invested $25 million of equity financing, bringing the total proceeds raised under Svante’s Series D financing to $100 million, completing what Suncor says is the largest single private investment into point source carbon capture technology globally to date.

Svante has now attracted more than $175 million in total funding since it was founded in 2007 to develop and commercialise its breakthrough solid sorbent technology at half the capital cost of traditional engineered solutions.

Claude Letourneau, President & CEO of Svante Inc, said: “Svante has generated a pipeline of potential new project opportunities capturing over 40 Mt of CO2/y before 2030 from natural gas industrial boilers, cement and lime, and blue hydrogen industrial facilities, mainly in North America and spurred by both US and Canada federal CO2 tax credits and prices on CO2 emissions.”

According to Mark Little, President & CEO of Suncor, “carbon capture is a strategic technology area for Suncor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our base business and produce blue hydrogen as an energy product. An investment in Svante is expected to support the acceleration of commercial-scale deployment of a technology that has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost associated with carbon capture. We are excited to become both an investor in and a collaborative partner with the company.”

Letourneau added on Suncor’s investment: “We are pleased to partner with a leading Canadian player in the energy industry, alongside existing investor Cenovus, and to benefit not only from their financial support but also their commitment to deliver low-carbon fuels and blue hydrogen to transform the energy system.”

Svante says its approach is tailored specifically to the challenges of separating CO₂ from nitrogen contained in diluted flue gas generated by industrial plants such as cement, steel, aluminium, fertiliser and hydrogen, which is typically emitted in large volumes, at low pressures, and dilute concentrations.

It uses tailor-made nano-materials (solid adsorbents) with very high storage capacity for carbon dioxide. It has engineered these adsorbents to catch and release CO₂ in less than 60 seconds, compared with hours for other technologies.

The company’s carbon capture technology consists of a patented architecture of structured adsorbent laminate (spaced sheets), proprietary process cycle design, and a rotary mechanical contactor to capture, release and regenerate the adsorbent in a single unit.

In January, Lafarge Canada, Svante and Total announced they had reached a major milestone at its Project CO2MENT, a first-of-its kind partnership to capture industrial levels of CO2 emissions from a cement plant. The multi-phase project celebrated the completion of Phase II construction to have the technology to capture and filter the CO2 from the flue gas. This was a crucial component to achieving the next stage of capturing CO2 flow at the Lafarge Richmond cement facility in British Columbia, Canada.