Tag Archives: Kristineberg

ABB and real progress in mine electrification with eMine™ portfolio

For more than 130 years, ABB has been embedded in industries where emissions are hard to abate and where alternative solutions are either unavailable or difficult to practically implement. The same is true today with mining, with ABB showcasing that the power of bold ideas and pioneering technologies can overcome challenges the sector is experiencing.

In the mining industry, ABB says ‘Real Progress’ means helping customers through their energy transition, with integrated electrification, automation and digital, combined with world-class technologies for hoisting and grinding. The ABB eMine™ portfolio of solutions is one example, empowering companies to convert fossil fuel-reliant mines to all-electric.

ABB’s Mehrzad Ashnagaran, Global Product Line Manager Electrification (left) & Ratna Kanth Dittakavi, Global eMine Sales Manager

In Sweden and Canada, ABB’s eMine Trolley System has been in operation at large, open-pit mines where diesel trucks are retrofitted to run on electric trolley lines while transporting ore. Copper Mountain Mining Corporation (now part of Hudbay Minerals) has reported that the electrified solution has resulted in a 90% reduction in carbon emissions for the electrified trucks running on trolley, compared with the diesel-powered trucks, while they also run at twice the speed.

Also in Canada, the eMine FastCharge high-power electric charging solution for haul trucks is being put through its paces, with the flexible and fully automated solution designed for the harshest mining environments.

IM spoke with ABB’s Mehrzad Ashnagaran, Global Product Line Manager Electrification, and Ratna Kanth Dittakavi, Global eMine Sales Manager, to find out more about the company’s electrification advances ahead of their appearances at The Electric Mine 2024, in Perth, Western Australia, taking place at the Crown Perth Complex, on May 21-23.

IM: It’s been almost three years since ABB launched its eMine portfolio of solutions. How would you say the mining industry’s reception to electrifying their operations has changed over this timeframe?

MA and RKD: At the time ABB eMine™ was launched in 2021, conversation around integrated electrification and automation with multiple vendors working together was in isolated pockets around the globe. Since then, we can say that from a stage of infancy mining operators and their industry partners have grown. The path of technology development and implementation has footprints along it as these collaborators have increased interest and uptake. Electric-driven equipment and electrical infrastructure is now being put in place in certain geographies – in Europe and North America, for example, where access to greener forms of energy is more obvious. Moreover, the industry as a whole is widely agreed that electric systems, combining automated elements, smart solutions and user-friendly interfacing, are the future. It will take time, but legislation and policies from governments are moving in the right direction to support electrification. ABB has seen this first hand through our recent invite on to European Association of Mining Industries (Euromines) committees to support with the promotion and consideration of responsible industry practices.

IM: Over that same timeframe, how has the eMine portfolio of solutions evolved? Have you felt the need to accelerate your solution development to serve the requirements of the industry?

MA and RKD: As well as being a portfolio of solutions, ABB eMine™ is an overall approach and way thinking, and it has been recognized as such. It has a purpose to make the all-electric mine possible and a route to do this with proven methods, electrification and automation systems from mine to port. But, focusing on the technologies in the nearly three years since launch, we have continued to drive, and at times accelerate, developments alongside close partners and customers. Take, for example, eMine™ Trolley System, which has moved on from only being a solution for large ultra-class diesel haul trucks in open-pit mines. It has recently been engineered for use in underground mines in tandem with battery-electric trolley trucks – bringing part of the all-electric mine to life in reality with Swedish partners Boliden and Epiroc. Meanwhile, our ABB engineers have developed eMine™ FastCharge as an engineered solution for customers. The power capacity of the fully automated charging system is now being steadily increased through research and development with the aim of being compatible with some of the world’s largest trucks.

IM: Are you seeing more mining companies opening to collaboration to solve some of the tricker electrification challenges they facing? Is ABB doing the same?

MA and RKD: Electrification has enormous potential for the mining industry in terms of operational cost savings, future-ready mine designs and shoring up energy supplies in the face of uncertainty around global supply chain issues for fossil fuels. An electric mine looks very different to a traditional mine on paper and over the landscape, so ABB has found that mining companies are looking to us from the earliest stages of planning. If, together, we have a chance to think about mine power requirements, ehouses and substations, truck routes, ramps and inclines, stoppages where charging could be carried out, people and equipment movements, it has a better result than trying to force or retrofit technologies. Once a mine is laid out, it’s not easy to change. eMine has been a door opener to effective conversations around not only electrification, but automation, digital solutions and service because the best planning is holistic. ABB can help customers to find out what will fit to the mine operations, often with inputs from key technology partners. In terms of electrical technology, it could be conveyor versus haul truck, or hoist versus conveyor and trucks. The combinations have to be investigated and agreed for the specific mine operation.

IM: Would you say the collaborations you have in place with Antofagasta Minerals and Boliden/Epiroc – which will be showcased at The Electric Mine 2024 – are representative of this shift in mindset?

MA and RKD: When we speak about customers in as diverse regions as northern Europe and South America, there are significant distinctions to be made, of course, but we have seen that customers worldwide are taking on the challenge of electrification, using resources available to their regions and adapting technologies to suit their environments. It’s well-documented that Sweden is a technology leader in mining, with established use of hydro power and some of the most advanced electrification and automation embedded in their operations. The new developments with Boliden and Epiroc are one example of ABB’s involvement in continuing to push the boundaries alongside industry peers. Taking the challenges in South America, mining companies are often working with remote sites at high altitude that don’t have well-connected infrastructure or reliable electrical grids. As a technology provider we consider the specifics of each location, such as where the nearest medium voltage connection is or how we can support operators to make adjustments from the safety of operations centers far from harsh natural environments.

IM: More widely, how do you define ABB’s unique offering to the mining sector when it comes to electrification? Where is the company’s expertise and offering proving decisive on projects?

MA and RKD: In terms of heritage, ABB has more than 130 years of history in the electrification of mining, beginning when our company first electrified a mine hoist in Sweden in the 1890s. But, since then, ABB has passed on expertise in electrical engineering from generation to generation and has driven innovations and advancements. We use technologies as an enabler, but always with the awareness that change should be expected – every technology we are speaking about today is developing. Mining companies are basing their decarbonization initiatives, strategies and planning on the expectation that these solutions with acceptable technology readiness levels will be available in time aligned with their decarbonization goals and road map. Through early engagement and by working together on industry-agnostic, interoperable solutions that can be adapted in line with new technologies gives a level of peace of mind. We work with customers to deploy the best available and bring the future ecosystem today – combining electrification, automation and digitalization for the highest levels of productivity, safety and sustainability.

IM: In addition to what you have already discussed above, what can attendees of The Electric Mine 2024 look forward to hearing about next week?

MA and RKD: In a world first, ABB and Epiroc, will take to the stage to jointly share the background, technical details and vision from the implementation of their underground trolley system for battery-electric haul trucks at Boliden’s Kristineberg mine in Sweden. Since announcing the technology milestone this year, we’ve engaged in important industry conversations signalling that this is just the start of a new era. Together with Franck Boudreault, Underground Application Expert – Electrification, Epiroc, I (Mehrzad) will speak on this exciting project. Further to this, we will share further details of decarbonisation in the all-important copper segment in South America, focusing on the role of collaboration in hitting net zero. Tomás Nass, Decarbonization Manager, Antofagasta Minerals, Chile, will host the presentation in partnership with myself (Ratna). Finally, Dr Fabiana Cavalcante, Global Head of Mobile e-Power, ABB Traction, is set to present a view on diesel to electric drivetrain conversion activity with Nuh Cement’s zero emission dump truck in Türkiye. The mining industry is ready for electrification and we look forward to engaging with contacts, colleagues and delegates at this major event.

ABB is a Gold Sponsor of The Electric Mine 2024, with the company having a major indoor display in the exhibition hall. Both Mehrzad Ashnagaran and Ratna Kanth Dittakavi will be on stage at the event as part of joint presentations during Day 1 of the event. Find out more about The Electric Mine 2024 by going to www.theelectricmine.com

Epiroc records ‘best quarter ever for electrification’

In a quarter of record revenues and adjusted operating margin, Epiroc’s battery-electric equipment orders and market demand for electrified mining solutions again came to the fore.

The company posted revenues of SEK11.9 billion ($1.2 billion) in the June quarter, 22% up on the same three-month period of a year ago. Its adjusted operating margin came in at 23.6%, compared with 22.6% a year earlier.

Epiroc’s aftermarket division continued to dominate the balance sheet, accounting for 73% of revenues, which itself was up on the 69% registered in the June quarter of 2021.

Included within this revenue is the company’s growing mid-life battery retrofit solution, which it launched last year to provide a second electrified life for its diesel-powered machines. Able to convert existing machines to battery-electric versions, CEO Helena Hedblom said the offering continued to find favour with existing mining customers.

“With brownfield operations, there are great opportunities to bring battery-electric solutions into the fleet with our retrofit option when, for example, existing diesel-powered machines go in for their mid-life upgrades,” she said.

To this point, the company has devised readily available battery-electric retrofit options for its diesel-powered Scooptram ST1030, Scooptram ST14 and Minetruck MT436 machines, but Hedblom said the company was working on offering this option across its entire diesel-powered fleet, with the machine retrofit rollout plan determined by the size of the installed base in the marketplace.

The company also won several major equipment contracts in the June quarter that included battery-electric solutions.

Its electric machines are set to feature on major projects such as Odyssey and Onaping Depth in Canada. Closer to home in Sweden, the Epiroc battery-electric fleet will grow at LKAB’s underground iron ore operations and Boliden is set to use several of zero-emission truck and loaders at numerous mine sites.

Epiroc labelled Q2 as its “best quarter ever for electrification”, and Hedblom was equally effusive about the company’s offering, saying it was built for both greenfield and brownfield mines.

“We have a strong position in the electrification market; both for equipment sales, retrofit and electrical infrastructure,” she said.

The company’s infrastructure proposition was strengthened during the quarter with the acquisition of JTMEC, an Australia-based company specialising in providing mines with electrical infrastructure.

This comes on top of the company’s recent purchase of Meglab, a Canada-based company with expertise in providing electrification infrastructure solutions to mines, meaning it has electrification infrastructure expertise in two major mining hubs.

One of the battery-electric orders received during the most recent three-month period was from Boliden for the Rävliden, Kristineberg and Renström mine sites in northern Sweden. Included within this order was an Scooptram ST18 Battery that, the company previously confirmed, will include the incorporation of Scooptram Automation, representing one of the first times these battery-backed machines will receive an automation upgrade.

While a solution for automating the battery charging or swapping process remains some way off, Hedblom sees the convergence of the two – electrification and automation – getting closer in the future.

“Electrification and automation go hand in hand, with companies that are high on electrification also typically being high on automation,” she said.

Boliden testing Epiroc battery-electric loader at Kristineberg

As Boliden continues to pursue further development of the Kristineberg underground copper-zinc mine in Sweden, it is increasing its understanding of the use of battery-electric vehicles at its underground operations.

Last month, the company outlined a SEK1.25 billion ($150 million) investment at Kristineberg – most of which is conditional on a production expansion permit – towards further developing the mine towards the Rävliden mineralisation. The expansion is expected to contribute to an increase in milled volumes in the Boliden Area to 1.8 Mt/y.

While this is happening, the company, in partnership with Epiroc, has been testing a 14 t ST14 Battery LHD at the mine.

Testing of the machine commenced in the March quarter and is expected to last 12 months. It has involved the installation of a battery swap and charging station (with overhead crane), and the switching of two batteries on site as testing has ramped up.

Patrik Hansson, Senior Development Engineer of Mining Technology at Boliden Mines, told IM the testing has been limited to a specific part of the mine – the L-Area, 850-1,000 m level. He said the ST14 Battery is the first battery-powered LHD tested across the company.

“We have several KPIs that we are following and evaluating, and comparing to our normal diesel equipment,” Hansson said. Included among the KPI list is tramming distance, driving time, equipment utilisation, equipment availability, production (t/mth), energy consumption (kWh/t), operator acceptance, ambient temperature, air quality (CO, NOx, CO2, diesel particulate matter), humidity level and noise level.

Boliden has submitted an application for expanded production at the Kristineberg mine to the Swedish Land and Environment Court. At the same time, it has decided to make preparatory investments in, among other things, infrastructure and water treatment. Conditional on the application being approved, Boliden will complete the investment, which includes a new ramp and a new crushing station. Production is expected to start in 2023.

In addition to increased mine production, a completed expansion means the life of the Kristineberg mine will be extended and that capacity utilisation in the Boliden Area’s concentrator will be improved.

At Kristineberg, cut and fill mining and drift and fill mining methods are used to mine the mineralised material underground. Generally, levels wider than 10 m are mined with drift and fill mining. In levels with widths between 6-10 m, slashing is used to mine any remaining mineralised material on the walls of the mining room. In the uppermost slices, residual mining is also practiced to mine the sill pillars.