Siemens Australia and Murray Engineering have partnered to, the companies say, provide “holistic” underground electric charging stations for mines.
The two have developed a ground-breaking high-powered electric vehicle charging station for use at mines both below and above ground.
The vehicle-agnostic charging stations will first be used to power a new light electric vehicle (eLV) being designed and manufactured by underground mining specialist, Murray Engineering, providing a fully-enclosed solution specifically designed to handle the toughest underground mining conditions in Australia.
The first of Murray Engineering’s eLVs will be ready for testing by the end of the year, with potential application at mine sites by mid-2021, according to the companies. Murray Engineering has the scale and access to test the solution through its parent company and underground mining contractor, the Byrnecut Group, which also owns one of the largest fleets of light vehicles used in mines.
Siemens will provide its Sicharge UC high power DC chargers, which provide a flexible output range from 125-600 kW with five frontends on each station as well as pantograph charging. Siemens Sicharge UC200 can deliver 200 kW and is already on-site at Murray Engineering headquarters in Pinjarra, Western Australia. The flexible high-power range of Siemens Sicharge UC portfolio enables the charging stations to scale for light, medium and heavy vehicles, it said.
Murray Engineering, which owns and operates a large fleet of light vehicles in its own right and integrates mine specification to over 100 vehicles annually, will design and fabricate a heavy-duty enclosure to protect the unit from the harsh underground conditions and enable ease of manoeuvrability. The enclosures will be air conditioned to protect the chargers and will have human machine interface panels on the outside to control the unit, Murray said. These high-powered units will allow vehicles to be fully charged in minutes (rather than hours), according to the companies.
Siemens Australia Pacific CEO, Jeff Connolly, welcomed the partnership, saying: “Since 1872, Siemens has been implementing globally renowned technologies to help Australian industry progress. This partnership will continue our trajectory of bringing the best in the world to the region and helping provide safer, quicker, more cost effective and sustainable solutions.”
Dr Max Ong, Innovation & Technology Manager at Murray Engineering, said: “Existing battery and charging solutions have fallen short of miners’ expectations where it matters most. Their commitment to cleaner, healthier and sustainable energy requires that the technology delivers equal benefits to productivity, safety and efficiency.
“Through Murray’s experience and technology capabilities, our fast-charging vehicles and infrastructure will deliver those benefits, whilst enhancing asset value and through-life cost. Being part of the largest underground mining contracting company in Australia, we understand the vehicle requirements very well and are well placed to develop a solution that not only matches, but also pre-empts, the needs of our customers and the industry.”
Dr Ong added: “Many existing electric vehicles designed for mining are matched to their own specific charging station, making the solution inefficient and expensive in the long run. The solution we are working on will be vehicle agnostic and has the potential to be scaled up as required. The importance of local manufacturing on Australian soil has never been so important.”