Tag Archives: hydrogen haulage

RPMGlobal adds electric vehicles to the HaaS simulation mix

RPMGlobal says it has further advanced its environmental, social and governance (ESG) software capabilities following the completion of enhancements to its Haulage as a Service (HaaS) simulation product to incorporate support for electric vehicles.

In addition, the company is planning to add hydrogen haulage vehicle technology into the mix later.

As a cloud enabled, service-orientated approach to haulage analysis, HaaS provides mining companies with the capability to undertake haulage calculations in a cloud environment, according to RPM.

The introduction of electric vehicle support will allow users to model energy usage and regenerative braking within HaaS, providing users with the ability to complete travel time calculations programmatically in a cloud-based environment.

RPMGlobal’s investment in both cloud and sustainability has increased significantly in the past year, culminating in the latest release of HaaS. HaaS, which was the first RPMGlobal solution to be released as a true Software as a Service offering, is a native cloud application that gives miners increased operational agility to undertake haulage calculations from any location, the company explained.

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, said the latest release further demonstrated the company’s commitment to support mining organisations on their journey towards environmentally responsible operations.

“RPMGlobal is focused on contributing towards a sustainable future for the people and organisations that we work with and it is great to see the advancements that our software is contributing to in this space,” he said.

With hydrogen now viewed as having an important role to play in the industry’s bid to decarbonise through the integration of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the next step for RPMGlobal’s haulage simulation platforms will be the introduction of hydrogen vehicle technology to the mix. Foundation work has already started on the offering, with completion planned later this calendar year, the company said.

“This new functionality will allow organisations to simulate hydrogen-powered vehicles and run scenarios with the specific characteristics of the new hydrogen technology,” RPM said. “The simulation platform will then provide a way to assess options and scenarios for diesel, electric or hydrogen powered vehicles in any combination.”

Mathews views the platform as critical capability for mining organisations and original equipment manufacturers as they search for ways to remove reliance on fossil fuels in mining.

“As more and more organisations commit to emission reduction targets, it will be critical to have software that can simulate different outcomes based on what combination of diesel-, electric- or hydrogen-powered vehicles are deployed within the mining operation and allow users to quantify the results of each scenario in a way that assists them to make the best decisions inclusive of sustainability considerations,” he said.

An increasing number of miners have formally set emissions targets while the majors have committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Many of the plans to reach these decarbonisation commitments have an element that focuses on haulage of material and the shift from diesel to alternative energy sources that are more sustainable, according to Mathews.

“Whether an organisation is looking to battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen, or trolley infrastructure as a greener alternative, our intent is to ensure RPMGlobal’s simulation solutions can support and enhance those decisions into the future,” he said.

The company added electric vehicle support to its haulage simulation platforms, HAULSIM and SIMULATE, back in May.

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.

Interact Analysis forecasts slow haul truck electrification uptake in open-pit mining

The electric revolution looks to be well and truly underway in the mining space, with underground mines of all sizes planning, trialling, or ordering various battery-electric machines to help them decarbonise their operations. Yet, the latest report on the off-highway vehicle market from Interact Analysis has indicated the transition above ground will take a little longer than many anticipated.

Homing in specifically on the 85-t-plus global hauler/dump truck market – broadly applicable to the medium-large construction space and the small-large open-pit mining sector – the market research firm laid out estimates for the annual number of new truck deliveries to 2029.

The surprising aspect of this research was the continued dominance of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle deliveries over this time frame.

The team at Interact Analysis expected the adoption rate/market share to go from 100% in 2020 – when 1,330 new vehicles were delivered – to 96.2% in 2029 – when it expected 1,716 units to be delivered.

The growth is slightly extreme in this comparison, but is partially accounted for by a drop off in deliveries in 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19. For reference, in 2019, 2,065 units were delivered.

Included within the ICE stats are biofuel vehicles, which have been gaining prominence in the mining space as miners realise they can both reduce diesel costs and emissions by incorporating biofuels into their operating mix.

Over the same time frame – 2020-2029 – the analysts see “hybrid” trucks commanding zero percent market share, with no sales.

Fully-electric trucks fare better, moving from zero deliveries in 2020 to two in 2021, five in 2022, six in 2023; to 72 in 2028 and 67 in 2029. The fully-electric adoption rate moves from 0% in 2020 to 3.8% in 2029.

Among these new fully-electric dump trucks is an XCMG EDF531 90 t battery-electric truck that was on show at the Bauma China show late last year (pictured below).

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China, said this dump truck has already been delivered to a customer.

“In fact, quite a few dump fully-electric trucks below 100 t have already been used in China (in Guangdong),” she told IM. “Many of these have payloads of below 60 t, but a few are 90 t, and are in trial runs, and a few have also been exported to New Zealand, using the LiFePO4 battery from CATL.”

There has been much talk about hydrogen haul trucks taking hold in the mining space. This has been catalysed by Anglo American’s plans to test a 291 t fuel cell electric vehicle, a conversion to hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery operation of a diesel-powered Komatsu 930E, at the Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa. If successful, these tests could lead to a rollout of 40 FCEVs across the global miner’s operations, it says.

Despite this, Interact Analysis’ research has no plus-85 t payload hydrogen trucks included in its forecasts to 2029.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK, explains: “Our statistics only look at new builds and not retrofits. My understanding is that the Anglo American vehicles would be retrofit (although there is limited detail at this point).

“Should some be new build, then we would update our forecast accordingly once we have better visibility.”

It’s worth asking the question: what about hydrogen trucks in mining beyond 2029?

Zhang said: “At present, mining trucks are mainly used in medium and large-scale coal and metal mines, and the use scenario is mainly for downhill heavy payload applications. That is to say where mineral resources are situated in a high up location, and it is necessary to load them from the mountain to the conveyor belt or transfer vehicle (the short distance transportation path is generally 2-3 km).”

She said mining truck electrification is mainly driven by two factors, with the first being operational cost advantages.

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China

“For example, a mine truck with a total weight of 90 t will cost $45,000-75,000 in standard fuel annually, whilst the cost of electricity is only a third of the cost of fuel under the same circumstances, which means that $30,000-45,000 can be saved in the annual cost, not to mention other costs which are also higher for ICE mine trucks such as repair and maintenance,” she said.

The second factor is environmental protection and policy promotion.

“In China, the ‘National Green Mine Construction Specification’, issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, has been implemented since October 2018,” Zhang explained. “This measure will surely help to grow the market share of hydrogen trucks in China, although the overall percentage will remain small.”

The last category included in Interact Analysis’ research was “Others” in the global hauler/dump truck market for 85-t-plus vehicles.

No deliveries for this category were registered in 2020, but the company anticipates one delivery in 2021, followed by three in 2022 and five in 2023. This gets as high as eight deliveries in 2025, but, by the end of the forecast period (2029), this category still commands 0.0% of the total.

So, what trucks fit into this category?

Hayfield explained: “We’re talking about diesel-electrics that will enter service into a trolley line operation – we essentially have to make an estimate on how we think the vehicle will predominantly be used. This is analogous to what we do in our on-highway research where we have to make estimates on how class 8 trucks are used for different applications ie long haul, distribution, vocational applications.”

This is not to say there will be no trolley assist trucks coming into the mining space, but, as far as Interact Analysis is concerned, these will not be new trucks coming out of the factory destined to head onto trolley lines. They will more likely be AC drive trucks that are retrofitted later for trolley assist operation.

When consolidated, these numbers show an underlying trend.

Back in 2019, there were 2,065 truck units delivered to the market in this 85-t-plus category, but, even out to 2029, this level is not reached, according to Interact Analysis.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK

In 2020, total deliveries dropped to 1,330 and, in 2021, Interact Analysis sees this rising to 1,545 units. A continual rise is expected in the years following, but it only reaches 1,783 in 2029.

What about beyond this timeframe?

Hayfield answered: “You have two fundamental pressures: a growing, resource-intensive population and a need to re-use/cut consumption because of environmental and/or legislative pressure. I suspect we will continue to see the growth of new mines throughout the 2030s in developing regions, fuelling demand for new trucks. However, I suspect we will see increasing pressure in Europe and North America on sustainability and the need to re-use materials and, hence, a slowing in the opening of new mines.”

This means demand for new trucks could start to drop during the 2030s in Europe and North America, he deduced.

This is not an exhaustive look at trends in the open-pit mining dump truck market – it is more of a taster – but Interact Analysis plans a detailed, mining specific study later in 2021. Such analysis could include forecasts for the retrofit market, providing the complete picture mining industry onlookers are after.

Fortescue to test battery-electric, fuel cell tech in prototype 240 t haul truck

Fortescue Metals Group has confirmed it is in the process of developing an in-house, non-diesel 240 t haul truck prototype that will test both battery-electric and fuel-cell electric drivetrain technology in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Speaking at its Investor and Media Day on Wednesday, Fortescue Chief Operating Officer, Greg Lilleyman, said the two-phase project would “offer a step-change opportunity to reduce our emissions”.

He explained: “With around a quarter of Fortescue’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions attributable to our mobile haul fleet, this is a significant opportunity to drive our pathway to net-zero operational emissions.”

The drivetrain of the 240 t prototype truck will be powered by the company’s integrated renewable energy network, he added.

Phase one of the project will see a battery-electric powertrain on-board the prototype truck tested and trialled, from an operational perspective, in the Pilbara. Phase two of the project will consider hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, Lilleyman added. The drivetrains will have the capacity to regenerate power on downhill haulage.

While no specific timeline was provided for the project, the company did say the program schedule was targeted to align with the replacement cycle of the company’s existing haul trucks.

Mining3 recruits ENGIE for next phase of mining hydrogen research

ENGIE, a global energy company, has become Mining3’s newest member, fast tracking, the Australia-based organisation says, the development of solutions to major industry issues, such as mining decarbonisation.

ENGIE joins Mining3 in its next phase of hydrogen research to co-create hydrogen solutions and help reach carbon neutrality for the mining sector in the coming decades, Mining3 said.

Mining3, along with its industry members, are dedicated to developing and delivering transformational technology to improve the productivity, sustainability, and safety of the mining industry. Its members are mining companies, OEMs and research organisations, including CSIRO, Newcrest, Komatsu, Dyno Nobel, The University of Queensland, OZ Minerals, South32, Queensland University of Technology, AngloGold Ashanti, Caterpillar and Vale.

ENGIE is a global energy company aiming to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral and sustainable world, through renewable energy, renewable hydrogen and other environmentally-friendly solutions, reconciling economic performance with a positive impact on people and the planet, Mining3 said.

Mining3 CEO, Paul Lever, said: “Mining3 has already identified a number of projects that align with both ENGIE’s strategy as well as the mining industry’s current and future needs. We believe that these only scrape the surface of what can be done in this space, and are looking forward to developing a diverse and forward-thinking energy roadmap for our members.

“Our priorities at Mining3 are focused on developing next generation mining systems and technologies, and we see sustainability drivers, and particularly renewables, as key components for this strategy in the coming years. We plan to be on the forefront of this research, and I believe we can achieve this with ENGIE as a partner on renewable hydrogen.”

Michele Azalbert, CEO of ENGIE’s Hydrogen Business Unit, said ENGIE was “delighted” to join Mining3 and its members to co-develop renewable hydrogen-based solutions for the mining industry.

“These solutions will help the industry players reach their carbon-neutrality goals, as well as help reduce emissions for countries where mining is a key industry, such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Africa, where we are developing hydrogen projects,” Azalbert said. “Through partnerships and collaboration with other experts at Mining3, ENGIE is looking forward to delivering renewable hydrogen solutions to the entire mining ecosystem.”

Anglo, BHP, FMG and Hatch back green hydrogen developments

Anglo American, BHP, Fortescue Metals and Hatch say they have formed a Green Hydrogen Consortium to look at ways of using green sources of hydrogen to accelerate decarbonisation within their operations globally.

Primarily, the consortium aims to collectively help to eliminate the obstacles to the adoption of green hydrogen technologies and encourage innovative application, they said.

“The goal is to identify opportunities to develop green hydrogen technologies for the resources sector and other heavy industries, and provide a mechanism for suppliers and operators to contribute to and engage with these development activities,” the four firms said.

The member companies of the Green Hydrogen Consortium stated that they are technology agnostic and are considering a range of options to progress decarbonisation of their operational greenhouse gas emissions, according to a fact sheet issued by the consortium.

“Given the range of applications for green hydrogen and the cost challenges associated with it, the consortium was formed to work together to seek to de-risk its application and enable acceleration of cost reductions,” the partners said. The consortium is expected to be in place for three years.

While Anglo American is currently developing the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck for testing at the Mogalakwena platinum group metals site, in South Africa, Fortescue already has a partnership in place with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, on the development of hydrogen technologies.

Some of the proposed activities of the consortium include undertaking research, technology and supply chain development, and piloting green hydrogen technologies to seek to de-risk and accelerate the technologies, the partners said.

“The companies involved in the consortium are committed to reducing their respective operational greenhouse gas emissions and to working collaboratively with others – including customers and suppliers – to find technological or other innovative solutions for the emissions associated with the use of their products and in their supply chains,” they said.

Hatch, the lone engineering company in the consortium, has been appointed as the Project Management and Governance Facilitator of the consortium.

Anglo American’s O’Neill gives analysts a taster of hydrogen haulage plan

Tony O’Neill, this week, provided analysts with some more detail around Anglo American’s hydrogen haulage plan and how the mining company plans to operate a haul truck on hydrogen power alone within the next 12 months.

O’Neill, the company’s Technical Director, mooted this goal in the company’s 2018 sustainability performance presentation in April, saying that oversizing the photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity at one of its mine sites would allow it to capture enough hydrogen to potentially power a haul truck.

During a roundtable discussion with analysts, O’Neill presented a new graphic of the hydrogen haulage plan (see below), and said the plan, which would see excess hydrogen produced with oversized PV unit capability, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a large site by 30% in the plant and 100% in the trucks.

On top of this, it could increase the truck power by 5% compared with diesel power, provide energy security and price security, allowing the company to move to the “hydrogen economy” and design the “next generation” in mining vehicles.

Anglo American is not the only mining company looking into hydrogen as a fuel source for its operations. Late last year, Fortescue Metals Group signed an agreement with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, to look at hydrogen technologies.

This hydrogen haulage program is just one of several projects the company is pushing forward with as part of its FutureSmart Mining™ technology and innovation initiative. These are focused on the Concentrated Mine™, the Waterless Mine, the Modern Mine and the Intelligent Mine.