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The Electric Mine conference shifts gear

With just under four months to go, The Electric Mine conference is charging up to full capacity.

IM has been able to assemble a world-class speaker line-up covering the entire mine electrification process – from R&D and power infrastructure, to battery charging and electrified equipment.

The conference, to take place on April 4-5, 2019, in Toronto, Canada, will host the great and the good in this fast-evolving sector and hear case studies from real mine trials or applications.

This includes a presentation from Kirkland Lake Gold, which is currently running one of the largest in-production underground battery-electric fleets in the industry at its Macassa gold mine in Canada.

Just last month, IM heard that some 33 units were active underground at the deep and high-grade mine in Ontario and Andrew Schinkel, Senior Electrical Engineer of the Macassa Mine Complex, will most likely be able to add to that number, as well as comment on the fleet’s productivity, come conference time.

The soon-to-be-in-production Borden gold project, also in Ontario, will be under the spotlight at the event, with the involved OEMs and mining company collaborating on stage as they have during mine development.

Maarten van Koppen (pictured, left), Senior Project Engineer at Goldcorp Porcupine Mines, Jeff Anderson, Senior Mechanical Designer, MacLean Engineering, and a Sandvik Mining co-speaker (to be confirmed), will present: ‘The Borden Gold Project – lessons learned from the ‘mine of the future’ and the crucial role of partnerships in building an all-electric underground mine’.

The major mining representation does not end there.

Samantha Espley, Director of the Technology & Innovation Centre for Mining and Mineral Processing, Vale Base Metals Operations, will chart the mining company’s roadmap to underground electrification in Sudbury during her talk; expect the OEMs in the room to ask questions about the future fleet for the Creighton deep zone!

Caterpillar’s Product Manager for Underground Technology Solutions, Jay Armburger, is also set to take to the stage at the Radisson Admiral. The focus of his talk will be on heat generation, comparing battery and diesel LHDs underground. A few passing references to the proof of concept R1300G LHD trials it ran not all that long ago at an underground mine in Sudbury, Canada (pictured, right), are likely.

We’ll also hear about developments above ground.

A joint presentation from Karl Trudeau (Nouveau Monde Graphite), Michel Serres (ABB Canada) and David Lyon (MEDATECH) will shed some light on what it will take to create an all-electric open-pit mine able to produce 100,000 t of graphite concentrate at NMG’s Matawinie project in Quebec, Canada.

Those three speakers could be in the front row for Per-Erik Lindström’s talk on The Electric Site project in Sweden.

Lindström, Vice President Global Key Account Management for Volvo Construction Equipment, has seen first hand how battery-electric equipment can move the needle in terms of cost and emissions at the Skanska Vikan Cross quarry, just outside of Gothenburg, and there are more than a few miners interested in the prototype machines (pictured, left) the OEM has manufactured for this purpose.

These presentations will be complemented by a talk from Heather Ednie, Managing Director, Global Mining Guidelines Group, on the second edition of the group’s Battery Electric Vehicle guideline; an opening keynote from Ali G. Madiseh, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Mine Energy Systems, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, titled: ‘The Electric Mine: a new norm in mine energy systems’; Erik Isokangas, Program Director, Mining3, discussing the value proposition for autonomous electric haulage; and Doug Morrison, President and CEO, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), looking at electrification to maximise productive capacity.

Meanwhile, Justin Bain, Chief Executive Officer, Energetique (Energy/Mobility), will fly in from Australia to pronounce the death of diesel Down Under – his firm has recently been involved in the conversion of diesel utility vehicles to battery-electric drive.

Along similar lines, Paul Miller, of Miller Technology, will talk about what goes into developing an innovative fully-electric light utility automobile, designed for continuous underground operation.

IM then has two behemoths in the mine power sector, Siemens and Schneider Electric, looking at the all-important infrastructure that goes into electrification.

Dr Bappa Banerjee, General Manager, Mining Equipment, GE Transportation, will look at the electric future for load and haul in his keynote, Mathieu Bouffard, Project Manager, Adria Manufacture, will cover battery charging and power management of battery-electric vehicles, and Don Duval, CEO of NORCAT, will showcase some of the new technologies that have come out of the organisation’s Underground Centre in Sudbury.

This speaker line-up is only set to improve as we move into the New Year, with IM in advanced discussions with more OEMs and miners looking to present.

The first global event on mine electrification continues to charge ahead…

If you’d like to hear more about The Electric Mine conference – including presenting and sponsorship opportunities – please feel free to get in contact with Editorial Director Paul Moore ([email protected]) or Editor Dan Gleeson ([email protected]).

To view the full speaker line-up, venue details and to take advantage of the soon-to-expire Early Bird attendance rate, please visit the event homepage here.

FastCharge car research bodes well for battery-electric mining vehicles

The ‘FastCharge’ research project has demonstrated a three-minute charge on a 450 kW ultra-fast prototype charging station can keep an electric-drive vehicle going for some 100 km.

The demonstration project, run by an industry consortium under the leadership of the BMW Group and including Allego, Phoenix Contact E-Mobility, Porsche and Siemens, showed a full charge (10-80% State of Charge (SOC)) could be achieved with the same prototype in 15 minutes.

This prototype was inaugurated in Jettingen-Scheppach, Bavaria, Germany, recently, and can now be used free of charge, BMW Group said. It is suitable for “electric models of all brands with the Type 2 version of the internationally widespread Combined Charging System (CCS), as is commonly used in Europe”, the auto manufacturer said.

This demonstration was clearly for the car market, yet the results of these trials are expected to impact charging times and systems for the current crop of battery-electric vehicles being developed in the mining industry.

The FastCharge project is receiving total funding of €7.8 million ($8.9 million) from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

“Fast and convenient charging will enhance the appeal of electromobility,” BMW says. “The increase in charging capacity up to 450 kW – between three and nine times the capacity available at DC fast-charging stations to date – enables a substantial reduction in charging times.”

The project is now investigating the technical requirements that need to be met in order to be able to tap into these extremely high charging capacities, the company said.

The essence of this system is a high-performance charging infrastructure; the Siemens energy supply system (pictured) being used in the project enables researchers to test the limits of the fast-charging capacity demonstrated by vehicle batteries. It can already handle higher voltages of up to 920 V – the level anticipated in future electrically powered vehicles – and integrates both the high-power electronics for the charging connections as well as the communication interface to the electric vehicles.

“This charge controller ensures the output is automatically adapted so that different electric cars can be charged using a single infrastructure,” the company said.

Thanks to high-current, high-voltage charging, the system is suitable for several applications, including fleet charging solutions and, as in the test case, charging along highways. In order to link the system to the public power grid in Jettingen-Scheppach as part of the project, a charging container was set up with two charging connections: one provides an unprecedented charging capacity of a maximum of 450 kW and the second delivers up to 175 kW. Both charging stations are now available for use free of charge for all vehicles which are CCS-compatible.

The Allego charging station prototypes now presented use the European Type 2 version of the well-established CCS charging connectors. This standard has already proved successful in numerous electrically-powered vehicles and is widely used internationally, BMW Group said.

In order to meet the demands of fast charging at high capacity, cooled high power charging cables made by Phoenix Contact are used, which are fully CCS-compatible. The cooling fluid is an environmentally-friendly mixture of water and glycol, allowing the cooling circuit to be half open. This makes maintenance comparatively straightforward compared with hermetically-sealed systems that use oil, eg in terms of refilling the cooling fluid.

One challenge was ensuring the cooling hoses in the charging line were not squeezed when connected to the charging station, as would happen with a conventional cable gland. This problem was solved by Phoenix Contact with a specially developed wall duct with defined interfaces for power transmission, communication and cooling as well as integrated tension relief.

“Depending on the model, the new ultra-fast charging station can be used for vehicles fitted with both 400 V and 800 V battery systems. Its charging capacity automatically adapts to the maximum permitted charging capacity on the vehicle side,” BMW Group said.

“The time saved as a result of the increased charging capacities is demonstrated in the example of the BMW i3 research vehicle. A single 10-80% SOC charging operation now only takes 15 minutes for the high-voltage battery, which has a net capacity of 57 kWh. This can be achieved on the vehicle side by means of a specially developed high-voltage battery combined with an intelligent charging strategy. The latter includes precise preconditioning of the storage temperature at the start of charging, temperature management during the charging operation itself and a perfectly coordinated charging capacity profile over time,” the company added.

The charging operation is carried out via a multi-voltage network on the vehicle side using a high-voltage DC/DC (HV-DC/DC) converter, transforming the required 800 V input voltage of the charging station to the lower 400 V system voltage of the BMW i3 research vehicle. The HV-DC/DC system also gives the vehicle reverse compatibility, allowing it to be charged at both old and future charging stations.

BMW Group said a key factor in ensuring reliable operation is secure communication between the vehicle and the charging station. For this reason, standardisation issues relating to interoperability are also being investigated and submitted to standardisation bodies.

The Porsche research vehicle, with a net battery capacity of around 90 kWh, achieved a charging capacity of more than 400 kW, thereby allowing charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 km of range.

IM will be hosting The Electric Mine conference in Toronto, Canada, on April 4-5, 2019, where developments in this fast-evolving sector will be discussed. For more information on the event, click here.

Miner collaboration playing a key role in battery-electric developments, Sandvik says

Sandvik says it understands the underground hard-rock mining industry’s need for productive and safe mining with battery-electric vehicles and, as a result, is working on even more solutions to cater to this demand.

Innovations and ideas for these future solutions are being discussed and validated in customer forums, participated by several major mining houses, and organised by the OEM.

These customer workshops and forums have proven to be an effective and successful means of collaboration, according to the company.

“Today, Sandvik understands customer needs for productive and safe mining with battery-electric vehicles, and uses these forums to discuss the changes, challenges, and opportunities that electrification is expected to bring to the mining industry,” it said.

As part of Sandvik’s customer validation process, pioneering mining houses get their voices heard and needs analysed in discussion forums, the company says. One example is Goldcorp, which is developing the world’s first all-electric underground mine in northern Ontario, Canada, at the Borden Lake gold project, and presented in the recent Canada customer forum.

Sandvik said: “The benefits that electrification and battery-electric equipment are expected to bring – for the Borden Lake mine as well as any other operation planning to introduce new technology – will include, for example, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced diesel fuel consumption, and reduced power consumption.

“Additionally, as diesel engines are replaced with battery-electric solutions, underground mines will produce less heat, noise and exhaust gases, including diesel particulate matter. Thus, the innovative technology will result in decreased mine ventilation needs, which are currently a significant cost factor in deep and complex underground mines.”

While Sandvik’s customer electrification forum occurred recently, previous efforts have been instrumental steps in the journey to providing an electrified product offering to replace diesel, the company said.

Sandvik has previously developed innovative products for the underground mining industry such as electric LHDs, remote control LHDs, and automation.

Learnings following two years of testing with the Sandvik LH307 battery LHD prototype (pictured) have been important building blocks to the knowledge bank, which is guiding the ongoing R&D efforts, and have driven a clear understanding that “successful electrification implementation involves much more than simply replacing the diesel engine with an electric motor and a battery”, Sandvik says.

“Thus, solutions in progress at Sandvik are based on a holistic approach of electrified equipment, ensuring that the final products make no compromises to performance.”

Mats Eriksson, President of Product Area Load and Haul, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “Finding new solutions to reduce heat and emissions in underground mines, without compromising the customer’s productivity, is perfectly in line with our strategy, safety first.

“Also the targeted benefits of battery electric vehicles speak for Sandvik’s aim to align with the United Nations Global Sustainability Development Goals. We believe that developing battery electric technology is one of the future directions to take.”

IM will be hosting The Electric Mine conference in Toronto, Canada, on April 4-5, 2019, where developments in this fast-evolving sector will be discussed. For more information on the event, click here.

Cat’s battery-electric loader proof of concept trial exceeds expectations

Earlier this month during a talk focused on developments in Caterpillar’s underground division, more details emerged of the proof of concept battery-electric trial carried out underground earlier this year on its R1300G LHD.

Susan Gaugush, Commercial Manager for Caterpillar Underground, said in tests at a mine in Sudbury, eastern Canada, against its diesel-equivalent, the R1300G had surpassed the company’s expectations.

“What we were expecting versus what we got was very interesting,” she told a group of journalists, including IM, at the company’s Tinaja Hills facility in Tucson, Arizona.

The trial involved the LHD performing a brake test (to simulate driving the bucket into the muck pile), travelling forward, stopping and performing the bucket cycle (lifting and lowering) and reversing back to the brake test location. This was repeated for 30 cycle runs.

The company assumed the results would show a three times reduction in terms of heat generation when comparing the battery-electric LHD to its diesel counterpart. “We actually saw a seven-and-a-half times improvement,” Gaugush said.

Also, the energy cost was ten times less for the battery LHD based on the equivalent duty cycle, coming in at $3.66/run compared with the diesel machine’s $37.50/run.

The company is still a good few years away from launching a battery-electric machine as it looks to tackle the industry need to improve safety, reduce ventilation requirements and operate at increasing depths, but its initial trial bodes well for future developments.

Gaugush said the company had taken a lot of what Caterpillar has applied in other parts of its business – in track-type tractors, electric-drive haul trucks and micro-grids, for example – and “leveraged it into a battery-electric motor”.

While Cat and Gaugush did not want to reveal what battery chemistry the company was using for this trial – explaining this could change in the future as the sector continues to evolve – she did say the trial involved the use of fast-charging technology, which saw the loader’s battery go from a 20% capacity to full charge in around 15 minutes.

The company’s aim is to eventually create a battery-electric loader that can work continuously for some four hours before requiring re-charge, while it hopes to remove the need for continuous battery change-out through an underground charging system.

Gaugush said there was potential for the company to apply the testing process it used on this LHD to underground truck technology, but Cat, which has partnered up with at least one undisclosed company on this project, is currently pursuing further test work on the R1300G.

Jay Armburger, Caterpillar’s Product Manager for Underground Technology, previously said underground electrification will bring with it substantial industry benefits, not just a reduction of greenhouse gases.

“Mining operations are going deeper and deeper in search of larger reserves and higher-grade ore,” Armburger said. “With that depth comes significant challenges with ventilation and temperature management. It takes a lot of capital investment to put in the infrastructure for ventilation systems and air conditioning systems. Battery electric machines really bring significant cost savings to these customers.”

One customer working with Caterpillar on this solution estimated a $40 million or more saving on capital expenses by reducing the volume requirements of ventilation shafts, he said. “Their vent reduction requirements can be reduced by 40%, and inlet and return shafts can be reduced up to 24%.”

International Mining launches The Electric Mine conference

Mine electrification, in open pits and underground, is inevitable. Whether the rationale is tied to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving employee health, cutting ventilation costs or increasing productivity, future operations will all be using a form of electricity to power machinery.

While much of the technology to go all-electric remains in its infancy, a number of mines are already using or factoring in the use of electric equipment for the reasons above. To meet this demand, OEMs are stepping up to the plate, with the help of much more powerful and efficient battery technology that has taken this market from trials and prototypes into a new mainstream.

This is a trend IM and its events division, IM Events, has been watching closely…and, now, we are ready to launch the first major conference with a global focus on this topic.

The Electric Mine conference, to be held in the Radisson Admiral hotel on the Toronto Harbourfront in Canada on April 4-5, 2019, will feature high quality presentations from miners, OEMs, engineering companies and think-tank institutions, highlighting technology advances, new designs and case studies from real mine trials or applications.

It will cover the electrification of mines both underground and on surface, including the rise of battery-powered solutions for loading and haulage, and the application of more efficient power infrastructure designs in mines.

The Electric Mine conference builds on IM Events’ success in holding focused technology meetings over the years. This includes five global In-Pit Crushing and Conveying (IPCC) conferences between 2011 and 2018, two Rapid Development events in 2013 and 2014, and two Mining Myanmar symposiums in 2014 and 2016.

If you’d like to hear more about The Electric Mine conference – including presenting and sponsorship opportunities  – please feel free to get in contact with Editorial Director Paul Moore ([email protected]) or Editor Dan Gleeson ([email protected]).

Please see www.im-mining.com/events as well as @TheElectricMine for regular speaker addition and event updates, plus we will from now on be posting all relevant news to #TheElectricMine. We look forward to seeing you there!