Tag Archives: Lithium-ion batteries

ABB to help deliver Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode plan

Talga Group says it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ABB to support the development and construction of its Vittangi Anode project, in northern Sweden.

Talga is constructing a scalable battery anode production facility and integrated graphite mining operation in northern Sweden, using 100% renewable electricity to supply ultra-low emission coated anode for, it says, greener lithium-ion batteries. The anode refinery is expected to commence production in 2023.

Under the MoU, ABB will use its industrial automation and electrification expertise to develop and co-ordinate an extensive suite of production control and process solutions for Talga’s vertically integrated lithium-ion battery anode operations.

In addition, ABB will work together with Talga and its partners to provide engineering support for the Vittangi Anode project definitive feasibility study, due for completion March 2021, with the intent to execute binding agreements for construction and operations in future.

Talga, Mitsui and LKAB recently signed a Letter of Intent that could see the three jointly develop the project.

Talga Managing Director, Mark Thompson, said: “ABB is at the forefront of industrial automation and electrification, and we are very pleased to have their support as we continue to execute on our plan to build Europe’s largest Li-ion battery anode production facility for more sustainable batteries.”

Björn Jonsson, Hub Division Manager North Europe, Process Industries, ABB, said: “Supporting the development of Talga’s Vittangi Anode project provides us with an additional opportunity to showcase ABB’s leadership in industrial automation and smart electrification, applied towards construction of key operations for the emerging European battery supply chain.

“This is another milestone for us and our customers in our aim for more sustainable operations and a fossil fuel free society.”

3ME, Batt Mobile Equipment gear up for TRITEV deployment at Aeris’ Tritton mine

With the launch of the ‘TRITEV’ in Australia earlier this month, 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment unveiled what is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment in underground hard-rock mines.

The Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader is scheduled to arrive at Aeris Resources’ Tritton underground copper mine in New South Wales later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

It follows on the heels of Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019, also as part of Project EVmine.

Steven Lawn, Chief Business Development Officer at 3ME, told IM that the machine’s development represented more than just a “diesel refit”.

“The machine we used was a second-hand Volvo L120E that required a ground-up rebuild,” he said. “The guys removed all diesel internal combustion engine components except the transmission and drivetrain. They then modelled the expected duty cycle.”

After this modelling, the designers developed a battery-electric system (battery, motor, motor control unit and ancillary items) that would suit the application at hand.

The software team then entered the process, writing the vehicle control unit software (ie the software that makes everything work), with a focus on ensuring the human machine interface remained the same so there was no difference for an operator controlling the legacy diesel variant and the battery-electric retrofit version, Lawn explained.

They then integrated the system into the existing platform before the team at Batt Mobile Equipment provided a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

Ahead of deployment at Tritton, the company plans to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales, Lawn said. This underground mine, previously owned by Centennial Coal, was put on care and maintenance back in 2014.

The partnership that delivered this industry first already has eyes on another EV retrofit, Lawn said, explaining that a Minecruiser platform for use in underground hazardous area mines is next on the agenda.

3ME Technology is understood to have an upcoming release in the pipeline in regards to its state-of-the-art battery system for mining applications, now also under demand from the defence market as indicated by recent public announcements about 3ME Technology’s participation in Australia’s C4 EDGE Program.

“The increased levels of safety and compliance achievable with the 3ME Technology battery system means that 3ME Technology is spearheading the supply of high-performance lithium-ion batteries into underground mining,” the company said.

Eriez’s flotation pipeline looks sound as testing requests grow

Eriez’s Flotation Division continues to benefit from its investments in testing capabilities at its Central Test Lab (CTL) in Erie, Pennsylvania, with the company saying its technical services business has doubled since 2015.

Eriez maintains an assortment of bench and pilot-scale equipment for both laboratory and in-field evaluations, with the flotation division conducting on-site testing for clients at its 15,000 sq.ft (1,394 sq.m) CTL in Erie.

“EFD can test and provide detailed process analysis and state-of-the-art solutions for nearly any application,” the company says. “In addition to testing, technical services are performed by a large team of mineral processing engineers. EFD’s highly experienced and qualified team is available to evaluate process flowsheets and conduct field trials and start-ups.”

Eriez’ on-site testing services provide quantitative data generated on a demonstration scale in the plant environment. The flotation division also excels at improving plant performance by conducting circuit evaluations, determining optimum operating conditions and finding solutions for common problems, according to the company.

To bolster this expertise, Eriez recently made significant investments in its in-house analytical capabilities to meet growing demand.

“In addition to flotation equipment, CTL houses all of Eriez’ core products – such as magnets, vibratory, screening, metal detection and filtration equipment – as well as an XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) analytical machine and ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry) for assay determination. This allows Eriez to conduct in-house metallurgical control analyses to allow for faster turnaround for its customers.”

Eric Yan, EFD Deputy Managing Director, said the last year had been “full of great opportunities” and growth for testing services.

“We have been working on several large-scale flowsheet development projects for clients in phosphate, potash and sulphide mineral industries,” he said. “We also have some exciting processes which allow our clients to recover their waste streams.

“We look forward to continuing to expand and advance our testing services offerings to support our valued customers.”

This is not the only area of growth for Eriez.

The company reports that sales of its Dry Vibrating Magnetic Filters (DVMFs) have been steadily escalating in line with ongoing increased worldwide lithium production, driven by growing demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Eriez DVMFs are specifically designed to remove very fine iron-bearing contaminants from hard-to-flow fine powders, such as lithium, being well-suited for both lithium producers and users.

Producers pulverise lithium before it goes to the user as a very fine powder, with DVMF units placed prior to and after mill processing. As an additional check, users can apply the DVMF when they receive lithium purchased from the producer.

Eriez said DVMF sales are climbing across the globe, most significantly in top lithium producing countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China and the US.

Eriez Director of Minerals and Materials Processing, Jose Marin, says: “We project DVMF sales will continue to soar in upcoming years as producers work to meet growing demand for lithium-ion batteries used in electronic consumer devices as well as electric and hybrid vehicles.”

Northvolt and Vattenfall partner on modular zero-emission power option offering

Northvolt and Vattenfall have announced a new battery energy storage solution that could provide a zero-emission alternative to running diesel generators on remote mine sites.

The Voltpack Mobile System is a rugged, highly modular lithium-ion battery system that can serve as a modular power supply solution to meet energy and power requirements of a wide variety of market scenarios, the companies said.

Prime applications include powering remote electricity grids, reinforcing weak grids, supporting electric vehicle charging and delivering grid services such as balancing power, flexibility, or other ancillary services, they said.

“Designed for redeployment, the system can be deployed for operations lasting days, weeks or even longer periods of time,” the companies said. “This characteristic opens Voltpack Mobile System up to opportunities of leasing and is expected to significantly expand the system’s utility.”

Within the project, Northvolt has led development and production of core technologies, including battery and complementary inverter systems, and the battery management system. Vattenfall, drawing on the company’s experience of delivering commercial grid solutions to market, has supported Voltpack Mobile System project development to tailor the product to match the needs of the market, through both advising on design and functionality, they said.

Emad Zand, President Battery Systems, Northvolt, said the company sees an increased need from the market for flexible solutions, both in terms of use case and location.

“Voltpack Mobile System is designed to give our customers a fleet of assets that can be redeployed, repurposed and connected seamlessly,” he said. “Vattenfall has been an invaluable partner of Northvolt since our earliest days, and their contributions to this project have enabled us to accelerate development of a product built to customer requirements.”

Torbjörn Johansson, Head of Vattenfall Network Solutions Sweden, said: “The need for flexible energy solutions such as energy storage is vital for the transition to the new energy system. Energy storage provides fast access to power when customers need to peak-shave, or the capacity of the grid connection is insufficient.

“The battery storage solution will be offered as part of our concept ‘Power-as-a-service’, which means that we deliver a complete package with ownership of the energy storage and manage it to the specification of the customer. Vattenfall add(s) a long experience of owning and operating different kind of network solutions including energy storage.”

Final validation of the system will be undertaken at Vattenfall’s test and certification centre in Älvkarleby, Sweden.

Vattenfall will be the first to offer the battery unit to the market and has identified the need for sustainable solutions at industries, for microgrids, construction sites as well as for event organisers, the companies said.

Voltpack Mobile System delivers up to 250 kW with a scalable capacity from 245 kWh to 1,225 kWh of available energy, according to the companies.

“The system scales through a central interface hub, which can connect in parallel up to five self-contained Voltpacks, each containing three liquid-cooled, industrial-grade battery Voltpack Cores,” the companies said. “The hub also serves as an interface for applications, and houses inverter and auxiliary systems. If further power or storage capacity is needed, this can be fulfilled simply by connecting multiple Voltpack Mobile Systems in parallel.”

Voltpacks feature high safety standards and are designed and built by Northvolt, the companies said.

“Leveraging field-proven technologies, Voltpack Mobile System is well-suited to operate under even the harshest conditions with a rugged profile and unique design features engineered for transportation and repeated redeployment.”

ARMZ, Aramine partnership brings battery-powered narrow vein LHD to Russia

ARMZ Mining Machinery says it has become the first and only company in Russia and the CIS producing lithium-ion battery-powered mining equipment through a collaboration with Aramine.

The company, part of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co, has started producing the mining equipment in Krasnokamensk, in the Trans-Baikal Territory of Russia, at the site of Priargunsky Industrial Mining and Chemical Union (PIMCU, PJSC is a part of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co).

The project is being implemented under an industrial partnership agreement ARMZ Uranium Holding Co and France-based Aramine, signed in April 2019. As part of this pact, ARMZ Mining Machinery is the project operator.

ARMZ said the production from Krasnokamensk will cover the internal needs of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corp (of which ARMZ is a part of), and let the company enter foreign markets with competitive products.

The ARGO LHD 140B is designed specifically for underground work in narrow-vein deposits, according to ARMZ. Based off the design of the Aramine miniLoader L140B, it has a width of 1.1 m and a bucket carrying capacity of 1.3 t. A 50 kW engine and a lithium-ion battery pack provide high mobility and continuous operation for up to four hours; at the same time, offering low noise, minimal heat transfer and no gas contamination in the mine. The machine significantly outperforms the requirements of the Russian standards in industrial safety, according to ARMZ.

Ivan Kiselev, Director General of PIMCU, PJSC, said: “New LHD machines will let us efficiently and reliably carry out operations for the loading and transportation of ore inside the stopes. The transition to a new battery-powered narrow-vein equipment is an economically viable solution aimed at reducing operating costs and improving the quality of ore mining.”

Igor Semenov, Executive Director of ARMZ Mining Machinery, said the production of the ARGO LHD 140B means ARMZ Mining Machinery has become the first and only company in Russia and the CIS producing lithium-ion battery-powered mining equipment.

He explained: “We adapted the Aramine design and specifications to Russia standards, organised the technological process: in-house production of the structural frame, arms and dippers, assembly of body parts, installation of components, start-up and commissioning of machines. Our next step will be the localisation of the production of lithium-ion batteries and the expansion of the product line with other types of underground equipment.”

The first serial vehicles have already passed factory tests, according to ARMZ, and will be sent to the uranium mines of PIMCU, PJSC this month. In 2021, the ARGO LHD 140B will enter the Russia market and will then gradually become available in other countries within the customs union, it said.

Northvolt charging up Epiroc battery-electric mining solutions

Northvolt has recently delivered its largest order of lithium-ion battery systems to date to Epiroc, as the two companies’ partnership continues to blossom.

The delivery of systems – which will be integrated into Epiroc’s mid-sized drilling family, Scooptram ST14 LHD and Minetruck MT42 – is the latest in a series made for Epiroc since 2018 and represents the first commercial roll-out of the latest generation of battery system from Northvolt, the Swedish battery developer and manufacturer said.

In an online post from Northvolt, the company interviewed Anders Lindkvist of Epiroc’s underground division to hear about the delivery and find out what it means for the original equipment manufacturer.

“The development of the battery system solution we’re integrating into Epiroc machines, both in terms of hardware and software, has been a true collaboration between Epiroc and Northvolt,” Lindkvist said. “The most recent delivery represents a major update compared to the earlier ones.

“Implemented into the new design are a lot of improvements in terms of reliability and serviceability. These design improvements come from the learnings taken from the common trial, which Northvolt and Epiroc have been involved in over the last 18 months. The changes appear promising.”

Demonstration activities which Lindkvist spoke of began with machine testing at Epiroc’s facilities in Örebro. But, in Spring 2019, testing stepped up to involve the first real-world test for the new battery-powered machines when Epiroc, as part of the EU funded Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) program, brought several electric machines into commercial operation at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä gold mine in Finland.

The fleet, running on earlier generation batteries supplied by Northvolt, included a Minetruck MT42, an underground truck which has a 42 t payload capacity – making it one of the largest battery-operated mine trucks on the market.

Commenting on these recent experiences, Lindkvist said: “We’ve gained a deeper knowledge of the limitations of batteries and greater perspective on how to handle and operate them. The limitations are fewer than on diesel engines, but they are different, so these need to be addressed with different actions. This was something we started to learn with our first-generation electric machines, but we now have a much deeper knowledge of the issues.”

Machine performance

“The performance we’re getting from the machines is at the level we expected,” explains Lindkvist. “Actually, battery running time appears longer than estimated, and we have not yet finalised the tuning of energy management which could optimise performance further.”

With battery cell development and optimisation of battery management systems as Lindkvist noted, driving time is likely to increase further still.

“Additionally, we’ve collected feedback from operators who experience the machines to be more powerful,” noted Lindkvist. “Other benefits are becoming clear too – such things as the quietness of operations, and possibility to talk to bystanders next to machines, seem more important than we thought.”

New solutions for an electric future

Close collaboration between Epiroc and Northvolt’s industrial battery design and development teams has been critical, Northvolt says. For Epiroc, an interesting dimension to the partnership is how it has shifted the company’s approach to “surrounding product development”.

Lindkvist said: “Epiroc has a typically involved itself with implementing well-proven solutions; it is very exciting to work with technology in the forefront. Combine this with the rapid growth of Northvolt, in an area where much is happening, and you get a very inspiring and innovative collaboration.”

Looking ahead, the path is bright. Evaluation of electric machine performance and operations will continue with the demonstration project in Finland, and validation of the new battery systems will be undertaken, according to Northvolt.

“As validation is concluded, this new generation system will be available for delivery to customers all over the world,” Lindkvist says. “This will be the moment when we grow to substantial volumes and this is very significant for Epiroc.”

Epiroc already has a sense of demand for these machines. In September 2019, the company announced orders for battery-electric mining equipment from customers in several countries including Finland, Australia and Canada. The orders were for Epiroc’s latest generation of electric machines consisting of 14 t and 18 t loaders, the Minetruck MT42 and a mid-sized drilling family including face drilling, production drilling and rock reinforcement rigs.

Epiroc aims to be able to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025.

“We will continue to diesel engine versions, but the volume of machines running on battery power will grow fast as customer readiness develops further,” Lindkvist says.

Successful electrification of mines, of course, relies on more than just machines. To operate a battery-electric fleet effectively, mines need to be designed differently, charging stations and ancillary equipment must be in place and operating profiles for efficient machine usage need to be established.

“Fortunately, the ongoing work of Epiroc is helping to fill out an in-depth understanding of what an electric mine may look like,” Northvolt says.

While underground mines might be some of the first to go electric, in large part thanks to the potential reductions in ventilation underground that create a strong business case, electric machines will soon become common above ground, too, according to Northvolt.

It says: “Epiroc has observed that ongoing success in the underground mine market is proving the viability of the technology and its competitiveness against performance of diesel-powered equipment – points which serve to strengthen the case for developing surface mining solutions.”

This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on Northvolt’s website here.

Lithium Australia’s VSPC finds Chinese partner for LFP cathode commercialisation

Lithium Australia says its VSPC subsidiary has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Beijing Saideli Technology Incorporated Co Ltd (SDL) to commercialise VSPC’s lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) cathode material.

VSPC has an R&D and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland, where it has developed advanced processes for the manufacture of lithium-ion battery (LIB) cathode powders applicable to all LIB chemistries, including LFP and lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NCM). It has a strong focus on the application of LFP in energy-storage and transport applications, having last month signed an agreement with China-based battery and energy storage specialists, the DLG Group, to sell LIBs and Soluna energy storage products into the rapidly expanding Australia renewables energy market.

The most recent agreement with SDL will see the parties collaborate on a staged plan for VSPC to commercialise production of its LFP cathode material. This includes the establishment of a supply chain for VSPC customers in China, as well as a joint feasibility study for LFP production and supply outside China using VSPC proprietary process technology.

Lithium Australia said: “SDL has considerable expertise in the design and manufacture of process equipment and extensive experience in the construction, commissioning and operation of chemical process plants, including those for the production of LIB cathode powders.”

Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia Managing Director, said VSPC’s MoU with SDL provided Lithium Australia with a “low-capital pathway” to the commercialisation of VSPC cathode powders, in order to meet targets set by its other partners in China.

“We look forward to working with SDL, with a specific focus on the anticipated growth of LFP cathode materials for transport and energy-storage applications,” he said.

Lithium Australia has, in recent years, rationalised its portfolio, but it continues with R&D on its proprietary extraction processes for the conversion of all lithium silicates (including mine waste), and of unused fines from spodumene processing, to lithium chemicals. From those chemicals, Lithium Australia plans to produce advanced components for the battery industry globally, and for stationary energy storage systems within Australia.

Lithium Australia goes further upstream with DLG Group pact

Lithium Australia, in its pursuit to produce advanced components for the battery industry globally, has signed an agreement for the joint battery marketing operations with China-based battery and energy storage specialists, the DLG Group.

The new enterprise – an incorporated joint venture (Lithium Australia 50% and DLG 50%) trading as Soluna Australia – has been established to sell lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) and Soluna energy storage products into the rapidly expanding Australia renewables energy market, Lithium Aus said.

In addition to the JV for the sale of LIBs and energy storage products, the companies have formed a technology alliance to fast-track commercialisation of VSPC Ltd’s proprietary cathode powders for use in DLG batteries (VSPC is a 100%-owned subsidiary of Lithium Australia). DLG will work with Lithium Australia to further develop VSPC’s cathode powders, initially with a focus on lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) LIBs, LFP being the ideal battery chemistry for Australian energy-storage applications, according to the company.

Lithium Australia explained the deal rationale: “A detailed investigation of the Australian energy-storage industry identified serious supply-chain constraints in the delivery of LIBs to Australian customers. Soluna Australia intends to provide a new and reliable supply source for renewable energy solutions to power users in Australia.”

Soluna Australia plans to apply the following supply-chain solutions, according to Lithium Aus:

  • Maintain local (Australia) stock levels of energy-storage products to meet demand;
  • Provide local sales and technical support;
  • Collaborate with customers and innovate to create energy-storage solutions suitable for remote-site and mining applications;
  • Evaluate the feasibility of manufacturing battery packs in Australia.

In addition, Soluna Australia will offer battery-recycling solutions through Lithium Australia’s battery recycling business unit, it said.

Lithium Australia Managing Director, Adrian Griffin, said: “Formalisation of Lithium Australia’s joint venture with DLG, which resulted in the creation of Soluna Australia, paves the way for the introduction of superior energy-storage products into the Australian market, reducing the carbon footprint of national energy consumption for both residential and industrial consumers.

“We foresee great potential for energy storage in fringe-of-grid and off-grid applications, as well as improvements in the utilisation of power from existing grids. Kieron D’Arcy (General Manager) and Raegan Jubb (Sales Manager) bring a wealth of experience to Soluna Australia and we welcome them to the team.”

Lithium Australia says it aims to ensure an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry (enhancing energy security in the process) by creating a “circular battery economy”. The recycling of old lithium-ion batteries to new is intrinsic to this plan.

Opening speaker and keynotes secured for ALTA 2020

The ALTA 2020 conference is shaping up nicely, with new opening and keynote speakers just announced for its 25th anniversary event.

Stedman Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of Future Battery Industries CRC (Australia), is set to open the conference with a paper titled, “A Research-Based Strategy for Establishing Australia as a Leading Player in the Emerging Global Battery Industry”.

Meanwhile, John Neale, Technical Specialist at Mintek (South Africa), is set to take on the nickel-cobalt-copper keynote with a talk titled: ‘Bioleaching of Nickel and Cobalt – The Progress and The Potential’.

The annual metallurgical event, to be held in Perth, Western Australia, on May 23-30, will also include a uranium-REE keynote from Darryl Butcher, Director of BDB Process (Australia). Butcher will present, ‘Review of Membrane Technology as a Process Tool’ at the event. The gold and precious metal keynote will come from Karel Osten, Independent Consultant at Mettko Pty Ltd (Australia), who will go some way to answering: ‘POX – Has it Reached its Full Potential, or is There Still Room for Improvement for Treating Refractory Gold Ores?’

The in-situ recovery keynote is yet to be announced, but Professor Peter Talbot, from the Institute for Future Environments at Queensland University of Technology (Australia), has the honour in the lithium and battery technology session. His paper is titled: ‘The Creation and Implications of Australia’s First Lithium-Ion Battery’.

For more information on ALTA 2020, follow the website here: www.altamet.com.au/conferences/alta-2020/

International Mining is a media sponsor of ALTA 2020

India’s first all-electric, heavy-duty truck ready for 2020 launch, reports say

Infraprime Logistics Technologies (IPLT) says India’s first all-electric, heavy-duty 60-t truck has had its initial commercial run, with a launch for the country’s construction and mining sectors scheduled for next year, according to local reports.

IPLT says its electric truck, the IPLT Rhino 5536, is the first of its kind to be integrated and deployed in India.

Some of its distinguishing features include the transmission based electric drivetrain, proprietary vehicle control software for improved mileage in material logistics and a battery pack “designed for optimal performance in local conditions”.

The latter has an in-built air-conditioned secondary cooling system to maintain the temperature around each cell at below 35° C even when ambient temperature climbs above 50° C, according to the company. IPLT said the 265 kWh battery pack weighs in at more than 2 t, making it one of the largest packs in use in India, and a 160-kW “twin gun fast charging” system is used to recharge it. This system, it says, could also offer a “blueprint for a pan-India network” of charging devices, it said.