Tag Archives: mine electrification

Hitachi Energy progresses solution for battery-powered haul truck charging

After being announced as one of eight selected technology vendors to progress in the Charge On™ Innovation Challenge, Hitachi Energy has revealed a bit more about the solution it is preparing to present to interested mining companies, OEMs and investors as part of the next phase of the challenge.

Founded by BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, together with multiple industry patrons, the Charge On Innovation Challenge has seen the world’s mining industry unite to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.

Hitachi Energy put forward a proposal that met with the judges’ rigorous criteria for interoperable solutions, it said. The flexible solution design enables electricity to be safely delivered to large battery-powered off-road electric haul trucks, while maintaining or improving productivity levels. The end-to-end solution connects the mine’s electrical grid directly to its haul trucks and other vehicles, such as excavators.

Advanced power electronics and digital technologies are key to the design of Hitachi Energy’s innovative solution to electrify the haul trucks, it said.

The solution, which leverages Grid-eMotion™ Flash – a pioneering solution for sustainable e-mobility that is already in use in mass transport applications – is billed as being able to deliver 8 MW of power to enable vehicles to be charged in just three minutes.

The charging process is carried out in a safe way at the points of loading and unloading, with the Flash charging meaning trucks can operate 24/7, according to the company. Hitachi Energy also delivers an interoperable, flexible Energy Transfer System (ETS) that is free of any catenary infrastructure, it says.

Matt Zafuto, VP, Industry Solutions, Hitachi Energy, told IM that these are ruggedised solutions adapted for mine sites.

“One important difference between the mining application and the mass transit solution is that the wayside infrastructure and ETS are mobile and can be easily moved as the mine site changes,” he said. “In a mass transit environment, this level of mobility of the wayside infrastructure isn’t a consideration.”

He added that all live parts associated with the charging poles will be at a safe height overhead in order to ensure proper safety measures are in place at the mine site.

When asked about expectations surrounding the haul truck run time on three minutes of charging at 8 MW, Zafuto said: “The specifications that were provided to us required us to comply with a 30-minute total cycle time, of which three minutes were associated with charging.”

To further optimise energy use across the mine, Hitachi Energy says it is also able to deliver a full solution, including its innovative e-mesh™ digital solutions for e-mobility, which offers end-to-end distributed energy solutions, combining advanced analytics, software technology and hardware systems. Additionally, a holistic and detailed monitoring and control solution for the charging process and the grid connection system will be available, as will a range of remote and on-site services to support the transition to the new technologies and the efficient operation of the new infrastructure.

The current schedule for the charging solution has field trials commencing in 2023, transitioning to pilot test periods at a chosen mine site, beginning in 2024, Zafuto confirmed.

“We have spoken to multiple truck OEMs who have verbally confirmed the feasibility of our solution design and we are in the process of forming our consortium, which will include multiple OEMs,” he said. “A mine site has not yet been selected but will come out of the consortium planning phase, which begins in July 2022.”

Gerhard Salge, CTO of Hitachi Energy, said the Charge On Innovation Challenge represented another great example of how the company was collaborating with whole industries to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon-neutral future.

“Hitachi Energy’s proposal is for an innovative haul truck 24/7 electrification solution that will help the world’s mining industry to decarbonise without compromising on productivity,” he said. “Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system and together with customers and partners, Hitachi Energy is pioneering technologies and software for advancing a sustainable energy future for all.”

Noaman Amjad, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Hitachi Energy, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected as one of the winning proposals and that Hitachi Energy’s solution has been recognised as meeting with the spirit of interoperability as requested by the patrons. We intend to make our solution available to all truck OEMs interested – a solution that’s built on the solid competence and deep insight of our mining, e-mobility, digital and power systems experts and that will lead to the electrification and decarbonisation of mining.”

Epiroc to acquire electrical infrastructure specialist JTMEC

Epiroc says it has agreed to acquire JTMEC, an Australia-based company specialising in providing mines with electrical infrastructure, which supports the industry’s transition to battery electrification.

JTMEC, based in Perth, is involved in both underground and surface mines, with an offering that includes high voltage installation and maintenance work, transformer servicing and testing, engineering design, feasibility studies and training. It also manufactures electrical products including substations and mine chargers.

JTMEC has 190 employees and had revenues in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, of about A$34 million ($24 million).

“Battery electrification represents the future in the mining industry, and the strong team at JTMEC is playing an important role in enabling this vital transformation,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “This acquisition will further strengthen our ability to support mining customers on their electrification journey toward less emissions, improved work conditions and higher productivity. JTMEC is also a strong complement to Meglab, which we acquired in 2021.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the June quarter 2022, with the transaction not subject to a disclosure obligation pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

Elphinstone to develop ‘suite’ of underground hard-rock battery-electric vehicles

Elphinstone Pty Ltd has commenced a project to develop a suite of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) for underground hard-rock mining to, it says, address the increasing decarbonisation efforts and expectations of its global customer base.

The project will require a significant research and development investment by the company in addition to the recently awarded Australian Federal Government Grant, according to the company.

Leveraging its existing portfolio of underground support vehicles, Elphinstone will develop the BEVs in collaboration with its customers and supply chain partners and produce these in existing product development and manufacturing facilities in Burnie, Tasmania.

“The Battery Electric Underground Support Vehicle project will build Australian sovereign capability and international export potential, encourage critical skills development required for the future growth of domestic manufacturing, and will ensure Australia remains a global market leader in mining equipment, technology and services (METS),” the company said. “The project scope will encompass an end-to-end research, design, development, testing, validation, manufacturing and market commercialisation of an industry leading battery electric powertrain integrated into two differing base platforms from the existing range of Elphinstone support vehicles.”

Elphinstone said technology projects of this calibre provide growth in highly valued skill sets across the country and will continue to provide jobs in the future. The company expects the project will create 15 highly-skilled positions to complete the development of both machine prototypes.

Elphinstone envisage that the BEV project will also create further opportunities and growth in the state and local communities.

It is currently engaging with strategic partners who have indicated their interest in working closely with Elphinstone on this development project. The vision is to provide a BEV solution at the forefront of technology while maintaining a reputation for high quality, premium and reliable products which are well-positioned and recognised globally in the underground hard-rock mining industry, the company said’.

Epiroc-Fraser McGill collaboration highlights battery-electric vehicle benefits

Epiroc says its collaboration with Fraser McGill on an impact study of battery-electric vehicles has exceeded expectations, opening up a new frontier in the worldwide underground power revolution.

In 2018, Epiroc launched a new suite of battery-powered products. Following that, the company approached one of the partners in the Waterberg Platinum Group Metals project in South Africa to present the equipment. As a greenfield project, the mine will be able to tailor its planned infrastructure to new equipment technologies, thereby maximising potential benefits. Specialist mining and minerals advisory company, Fraser McGill, was approached to conduct an impact study of battery-electric vehicles and requested help from industry leader Epiroc.

Epiroc’s Mining & Construction publication brought Epiroc’s Don Thompson and Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill, together to discuss what they found.

Epiroc: How did Fraser McGill come to cooperate with Epiroc on this study?

RM: I’ve been involved with the Waterberg project for many years. I’d been interested in battery-vehicle technologies, specifically to reduce the ventilation and the cooling requirements, but hadn’t had the opportunity to look at battery vehicles in detail. We weren’t looking to partner with one supplier. We were conducting a broad assessment, looking at the impact of battery-electric vehicles on large underground projects – not specifically Epiroc’s equipment. But Epiroc was the furthest ahead in the game, and still is. With the relationship we had with Epiroc, it was a natural fit.

Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill

Epiroc: What practical steps did your collaboration entail?

DT: Epiroc introduced our first-generation battery-electric fleet in Canada in 2016. We launched the next generation in 2018, with better battery and motor technology. By then we had clocked up more than 100,000 hours, so we had good data, based on actual machines running in production environments. For this study, we provided the technical comparison of diesel versus battery electric, and the benefits thereof, because we can supply the diesel equivalent of a battery-electric machine. We could provide a comparison of heat generation – with ventilation, there’s a significant reduction of what is required. We could also provide the emissions. That was provided to Rob and his team.

RM: Diesel vehicles have been around a long time. There is a lot of data from operations, in terms of how they perform, costs, maintenance schedules and replacement schedules. With the electric vehicles being newer, we had to rely on Epiroc to make a lot of theoretical data available related to the design, and data they’ve been gathering since they rolled out their first generation and the next-generation machines. We conducted the study, but relied on Epiroc to provide us with input and insights, and technical and costing information that allowed us to do an assessment. The comparison goes far beyond comparing two vehicle technologies. The battery vehicle certainly is more efficient and, over time, cheaper. But a lot of the benefits relate to the environment that they operate in – to improvements in health, safety and productivity of workers.

Epiroc: How did your collaboration help identify mine infrastructure and design modifications needed?

DT: We provided the specifications on the chargers required. We provided a number of scenarios and battery selections, and different layouts of charging stations. Fraser McGill would recommend where the client should put the charging station and we could recommend the capacity of the chargers, based on the size and number of vehicles.

RM: A crucial opportunity in a greenfield project is that it allows you to consider how an underground mine would be designed differently if you started with a battery-electric vehicle in mind.

DT: The technical data Epiroc provided would be applicable to greenfield and brownfield operations, but it’s much more suited to a greenfield operation because you can adjust the mine layout. The mine would consider redesigning the tunnel layout to see where we can enhance the regeneration of batteries because it reduces the cost.

RM: An example is the hauling model. If we predominantly hauled rock on the incline versus the decline, we would significantly increase our battery operating cost. It’s something we can quantify already, but it requires that redesign.

Epiroc: What made your collaboration a success, and what have you learned from it?

DT: Interest from the client was probably the main driver. They realised that, with a greenfield project, it made sense to do a trade-off study. But I don’t think we could have done this alone. We don’t have the resources, here or in Sweden, when it comes to the full package calculation – be it ventilation, the mining layout, or contacts with the different clients.

Don Thompson, Manager Global Customer Relationships, Epiroc

RM: Any collaboration is successful if you’ve got the same vision. We must ensure we provide decision-making tools that are well informed, so we need to speak to people who really know what they’re talking about. Then we can comfortably go to our mining customers and say: this is really the way to go. I’m very impressed with what Epiroc has done in this regard.

Epiroc: How was the study received?

RM: Since completing this study and circulating some of the outcomes, we’ve had interest in Canada, in Australia and from several customers in South Africa who we are talking to about doing similar studies. The technologies are so attractive, and customers are asking: Where do I start? How do I roll it out? What’s the state of the technology?

Epiroc: Do you foresee future collaboration?

RM: Absolutely. It’s been a good experience, and we rely on working with experts. We are thrilled to have worked with a technology leader like Epiroc.

DT: Another client has shown an interest in battery-electric technology for a new mine they are developing. They want to do a comparative study, and we hope to collaborate with Fraser McGill on this, too.

This interview is an edited version of a piece that first appeared here

Epiroc bolsters battery-electric conversion expertise with FVT Research acquisition

Epiroc has agreed to acquire the business and assets of FVT Research Inc, a Canadian company with expertise in converting diesel-powered mining machines to battery-electric vehicles.

FVT Research, based in Vancouver, Canada, designs diesel-to-battery conversion kits and rebuilds mining machines to electric versions. The company has also recently been part of a successful project to convert the diesel-powered Epiroc Scooptram ST1030 loader to battery electric.

FVT Research has about 25 employees and had revenues in 2020 of C$4 million ($3.2 million).

“Bringing the strong team at FVT Research into the Epiroc Group fits perfectly into our strategy to provide emissions-free battery-electric vehicles,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “Our customers are increasingly discovering the significant benefits that come with using battery-electric vehicles, and FVT Research’s technical expertise and competence will be key assets for Epiroc as we continue to provide more solutions in this area.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second half 2021, with the transaction not subject to a disclosure obligation pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

ABB and MEDATech team up to tackle mine decarbonisation

ABB says it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MEDATech to jointly explore solutions to decarbonise mining operations through charging solutions and optimised electric drive systems in battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) for heavy-duty applications.

The two companies will share expertise and collaborate in bringing solutions to market that will reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with heavy machinery in mining, they say.

Technology provider ABB and MEDATech bring complementary expertise to designing and building electric heavy mobile equipment. The collaboration could involve exploring further development and possible technologies for high power and automated charging and connector systems to facilitate the adoption of BEVs in industries with heavy machinery.

“We are very excited to be working with ABB in this new and dynamic field of electric vehicles and will bring our advanced drive train technology to the forefront alongside ABB’s advanced charging technology,” Rob Rennie, Founder and President of MEDATech, said. “Collaborating to accelerate the adoption to emission-free transport systems enabling cleaner operations is truly at the heart of our company.”

The collaboration with MEDATech, which largely works across the mining, construction and energy sectors, is the latest in a series that ABB is developing with OEMs and technology innovators to accelerate the transition to all-electric mines.

Mehrzad Ashnagaran, ABB’s Global Product Line Manager Electrification & Composite Plant, said: “Within the ABB Ability™ eMine framework, ABB is increasingly working with OEMs and technology innovators to fast-track the development of new emissions-reducing systems through the electrification and automation of the whole mining operation. Strategic collaborations, such as with MEDATech, provide solutions that support responsible mining operations. The aim of our combined solutions is to enhance the efficiency and flexibility of customer businesses, contribute to the reduction of CO₂ and the realisation of a sustainable society.”

Nic Beutler, ABB’s Global Product Manager Power System & Charging Solutions, added: “The mining sector has set clear and ambitious targets to decarbonise operations for a more sustainable future. To meet or even exceed productivity targets while not compromising on safety, new thinking and technological solutions are required. ABB and MEDATech are an ideal match for exploring the steps needed to reach net zero emissions for heavy-duty industrial machinery.”

ABB recently launched ABB Ability eMine, an approach, method and integrated portfolio of electrification and digital systems designed to accelerate the decarbonisation of the mining sector. Included within this was the eMine FastCharge solution (prototype pictured) and eMine Trolley System.

MEDATech, meanwhile, recently launched what it says is the “Deswik of underground fleet electric vehicle electrification” with its Electric Vehicle Fleet Optimization Software (EV-FOS).

The agreement with MEDATech will complement ABB’s engineering and technology expertise on-board and off-board mining vehicles and allow for much needed and lasting solutions for the industry, it said.

MEDATech provides its ALTDRIVE drivetrain technology to OEMs and end users while consulting and developing optimisation tools to realise the efficient and cost-effective implementation of electric fleets, according to ABB.

Based in Ontario, Canada, it has built extensive know-how and expertise in designing, building and testing of prototype systems and vehicles since 2003. It launched the 100% electric mining haul truck, the Western Star 4900XD (pictured below), which has ultra-fast charging capability, accepting a charge power of 600 kW.

With ABB’s charging capability matching charging cycles to the production, charging times of less than 15 minutes can be achieved, according to the company.

Sandvik to unveil new battery-powered bolter, simulator and app at MINExpo

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is set to unveil three new underground drilling solutions at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, based around a common theme of electrification, sustainability and digitalisation.

The new products to be unveiled at the show, taking place from September 13-15, include a new battery-powered bolting rig, an accompanying portable training simulator and a new mobile application for enhanced drilling.

The new Sandvik DS412iE (pictured) is a highly automated, productive, battery-electric powered rock bolter for underground mining and tunnelling applications. It is equipped with an electric driveline system and battery package with electric motor for zero emissions while tramming and drilling, thereby reducing thermal load and underground ventilation requirements, Sandvik says.

The rig’s iSeries platform offers various levels of automation for rock support drilling as well as providing component commonality through the 400i drill range. The introduction of Sandvik DS412iE rounds out Sandvik’s first range of battery-electric vehicles for all underground drilling applications, according to the company.

Sandvik Digital Driller™ training simulators provide a compact and flexible solution to safely train underground drill rig operators or maintenance teams, the company says. The latest Digital Driller module is specifically designed to support the new Sandvik DS412iE battery-electric rig, with the new version retaining the key features of being low weight and highly portable, enabling it to be used where it is most needed – on site.

Use of the simulator is estimated to increase annual productivity by 5% due to increased rig availability alone, Sandvik claims. In addition, training costs are reduced by up to 35% through less energy and consumables costs and reduced rig damage.

The new Sandvik DrillConnect mobile application transfers drilling plans – including those created in iSURE® – drilling reports and MySandvik machine data in environments where network coverage is inadequate or not available. Sandvik DrillConnect removes paper-based processes and automates the data transfer between the office and drill rig via a customer’s preferred mobile device. The app also provides easy access to the machine’s troubleshooting and manuals and is designed to be scalable for future development, according to Sandvik. The first version will be compatible with iOS devices, with plans to introduce Android compatibility in future iterations.

Patrick Murphy, President of Underground Drilling at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “Our latest developments are based on the feedback we have received from customers. We have listened to their challenges and are developing solutions that ensure we will continue to lead the industry shift toward a more digitalised and electrified future.”

In addition to the new underground drilling solutions being introduced at MINExpo, a Sandvik DL432i tele-remote operator chair will be on display. Sandvik will also showcase the latest updates to its underground drilling product offering.

MEDATech launches profit, emissions forecasting software for fleet electrification

Ontario-based MEDATech has launched what it says is the “Deswik of underground fleet electric vehicle electrification” with its Electric Vehicle Fleet Optimization Software (EV-FOS).

Built in MATLAB, MEDATech’s tool for simulation, data acquisition and industrial software development, EV-FOS approaches battery-electric vehicle (BEV) optimisation in mines from the practical (vehicle) side. Its goal is to ensure that the transition to electrification is profitable as well as good for the environment, MEDATech says.

The launch of the software, just in time for MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, comes after four years of development in collaboration with McMaster University’s Bauman Lab for Electrified Powertrain Research.

The software is, the company says, essential to building a mine electrification plan that is both optimal and practical, based on technology that is available today.

The Collingwood, Canada heavy-equipment design/build engineering company has trialled EV-FOS with major miners like Glencore, Newmont and Torex Gold, with the software conclusively proven to reduce CO2 emissions and help save cost, according to the company.

“EV-FOS is very precise,” MEDATech President, Rob Rennie, says. “The alternative to using our software is developing your own calculations or guessing. With millions or tens of millions of dollars hanging in the balance, it makes sense to invest in something that yields accurate forecasts.”

MEDATech EV-FOS optimises BEV energy usage for new and existing mines, and is as useful for mine development as it is for production. The software can compare BEV fleets versus diesel fleets in terms of life-of-mine vehicle costs, CO2 emissions, fuel and ventilation costs, as well as vehicle maintenance. It also shows the difference in cost and production values between fast charging, battery swapping and on-board charging.

EV-FOS also calculates optimal BEV type, battery size and charging infrastructure for any given mine. It shows effectiveness in dollars per tonne by the level, by the year, for fast charging, for battery swapping and for diesel, MEDATech says.

“Measuring cost in dollars per tonne and in total CO2 reduction are the big dividends,” Rennie says. “That includes labour, capital costs, operation costs and ventilation costs for mines designed for electric operations. It compares these figures to operational and ventilation costs for mines designed only around diesel power, for an equivalent production requirement.”

ABB launches eMine portfolio with FastCharge and Trolley System highlights

ABB’s efforts to accelerate the move towards a zero-carbon mine have been strengthened with the launch of its ABB Ability™ eMine portfolio of solutions and the unveiling of its eMine FastCharge solution, billed by the company as the world’s fastest and most powerful charging system that is designed to interface with all makes of electric mining haul trucks.

eMine comprises a portfolio of electrification technologies to make the all-electric mine possible from mine to port and is integrated with digital applications and services to monitor and optimise energy usage, ABB says. It can electrify any mining equipment across hoisting, grinding, hauling and material handling.

From 2022, it will include new ABB Ability eMine FastCharge, which provides high-power electric charging for haul trucks and is currently in pilot phase. It also incorporates the ABB Ability eMine Trolley System, which can reduce diesel consumption by up to 90%, significantly lowering energy costs and environmental impact.

“The global mining industry is undergoing one of the most significant and important transformations of our generation – and that is to become zero-carbon,” Max Luedtke, Global Head of Mining at ABB, says. “ABB Ability eMine is an exciting milestone to help convert existing mining operations from fossil fuel energy to all-electric. Mines can become even more energy efficient with vastly reduced levels of CO₂ emissions, while at the same time staying competitive and ensuring high productivity.”

eMine FastCharge can serve as a cornerstone of the transition to fully electrified mines across the industry, according to ABB.

This flexible and fully automated solution is being designed for the harshest environments, can be installed anywhere and can charge any electric truck without human intervention at up to 600 kW, ABB says.

Charging time will depend on the battery capacity on-board the haul truck and the operational profile, however, in many instances, a suitable state of charge could be reached within 15 minutes, the company claims.

“With eMine, ABB is extending its capabilities to the electrification of mining trucks and technologies for the full mining process,” the company said.

“eMine provides integral design planning and thinking to maximise the value of electrification, helping to design the hauling process in the most optimised way with electrical solutions that match mine constraints and help meet production targets.”

ABB says it helps mine operators map their journey towards an all-electric mine from phasing out diesel to embedding a new mindset and new team skills.

“By fully integrating electrification and digital systems from the mine to the port, eMine further reduces overall costs and improves mine performance while significantly lowering environmental impact.”

Newmont starts Rokion R400 battery-electric vehicle trial at Tanami

Newmont’s Tanami operation in the the Northern Territory of Australia has started trialling a new electric vehicle in its underground operations.

The Rokion R400 will initially be used to transport team members up and down the mine, the company said in a post on Facebook. The vehicle is equipped for the transport of 12 people and comes with a battery capacity of 100 kWh.

Newmont said the vehicle is fitted with good suspension and ergonomics, being designed for passenger comfort.

Early indicators show the vehicle has the capability to complete several trips to and from the bottom of the Tanami mine without requiring recharging, Newmont said.

“We hope the trial proves to be successful, and can become the starting point for the future of electric vehicles both light and heavy at Newmont Tanami,” it added.

This is not the first Canada-manufactured Rokion battery-electric vehicle to make an entrance in Australia. The company has previously tested both a Rokion R200 and Rokion R400 at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Broadmeadow mine in Queensland.

Newmont, meanwhile, is in the process of expanding the Tanami operation through the Tanami Expansion 2 project. This is expected to increase the annual capacity of the processing site to 3.5 Mt/y, from 2.6 Mt/y, and extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.