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.