The Electric Mine Consortium is looking to bridge the gap between the testing of electrified ultra-class haul trucks and continued rollout across industry of battery-electric underground trucks with a project to develop and trial a retrofitted 100-ton (91 t) haul truck as part of its consortium work in Australia.
It has teamed up with Electric Power Conversions Australia (EPCA), an Indigenous electric battery conversion company in Australia, to run a Caterpillar 777 haul truck electric vehicle demonstrator project.
The consortium explained: “The Electric Mine Consortium are focused across all fleet sizes when it comes to electrification. In our recent work, we have uncovered that in the area of larger surface in-pit trucks, there are some trials underway, however there is a lack of focus on the smaller trucks. Making sure we understand and trial electric technologies in smaller fleets is important to our members, and we were recently presented with an opportunity to do so by Electric Power Conversions Australia, an Indigenous electric battery conversion company in Australia.”
The conversion of the vehicle – one of the most commonly used surface trucks across the Tier 2 and Tier 3 mining company market, according to the consortium – will see the 750 kW diesel motor switched out with a 1,000 kW electric motor and 2 MWh of batteries, according to Clayton Franklin, founder and CEO of EPCA.
Franklin said he was expecting this configuration to allow for an eight-hour average run time, providing 30% more power than the diesel equivalent and the ability to move material quicker. He also predicted a 50% reduction in total cost of ownership on the battery-converted truck when compared with the diesel truck.
EPCA was founded in 2021 with the vision of providing a practical solution to the growing environmental impact of the Australian mining industry. Franklin himself was the lead engineer on a 220-t hydrogen-battery hybrid mining truck and also for an Epiroc D65 drill rig that was electrified.
The Electric Mine Consortium is a growing group of leading mining and service companies. These companies are driven by the imperative to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine. Mining companies Gold Fields, South32, OZ Minerals, IGO Ltd, Evolution Mining, Iluka Resources, MMG and Sandfire Resources are among the participants.
In the short time since the establishment, the consortium’s membership has grown almost two-fold, with over 40 ongoing equipment trials in 15 different locations having been mobilised.