Tag Archives: trolley assist

Boliden’s trolley journey continues to evolve with Kevitsa line launch

In its latest move to become the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world, Boliden has opened the trolley line at its Kevitsa mine in Finland.

The line, which encompasses a 1.3-km-long track, now has three Komatsu 227 t 830E-5 trucks running on it, according to Stefan Romedahl, President Business Area Mines, Boliden. “The following 10 trucks will be converted in the spring of 2023 when the in-pit trolley line will be commissioned,” he told IM.

This project aims to cut the mine’s carbon dioxide emissions, with estimates the volume of CO2 emitted could reduce by 9% over mine’s lifetime using this electrical infrastructure.

Boliden is not new to trolley operations. It started testing trucks on the Kevitsa line late last year, while its Aitik copper mine in northern Sweden ran electric-drive trucks on trolley as far back as 2018.

Following a two-year trolley assist pilot project on a 700-m-long line at Aitik – which saw Eitech and ABB supply electrical infrastructure; Pon Equipment and Caterpillar carry out truck modifications; and Chalmers University provide supporting research on system aspects of the electrification – the company, in late-2019, decided to further invest in trolley operations at Aitik. This was announced at the same time as the Kevitsa trolley plans.

Romedahl confirmed there are now 14 Caterpillar 313 t 795F ACs trucks running on a 1.7-km-long trolley line at Aitik, which will be extended as the depth of the mine increases.

Stefan Romedahl, President Business Area Mines, Boliden

While all the trucks at these two operations use diesel-powered propulsion after they come off the trolley infrastructure, Romedahl said the plan was to convert them to ‘zero emission’ solutions in the future, with a battery-trolley setup under consideration.

“Yes, this is the long-term strategy,” he said. “Boliden is working closely with our suppliers to achieve this in the upcoming years.”

With the world requiring many more mines to electrify industry, Romedahl was hopeful more of these would move towards fossil-free operation.

“At Boliden we have the vision to be the most climate friendly and respected metal provider in the world,” he said. “That is not something you can have as a vision without doing quite a lot in the field of sustainable company development. The trolley lines are one of many activities we do to reach that vision.

“For Boliden, it is crucial to perform in the direction of fossil freeness as soon as possible. The green transition can’t happen in 10 years; it needs to happen now.”

Copper Mountain increases scope of trolley assist haulage project

Copper Mountain’s 2021 ESG Report has highlighted the progress the company has made on its “net-zero journey”, with its ongoing trolley assist project in British Columbia, Canada, one of the key drivers towards hitting its major 2035 goal.

The company operates its namesake mine in BC, which has recently increased throughput to 45,000 t/d as part of this net-zero journey.

Earlier this year, the company commissioned its trolley assist project with the help of Komatsu, SMS, ABB, BC Hydro and CleanBC. This project, the first of its kind in North America and a key plank of Copper Mountain’s goal of achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2035, was designed to support four full-sized, trolley-capable 830E-5 Komatsu trucks at a time with hauling ore up a 1-km section of ramp in the operation’s main pit to its primary crusher.

Since commissioning the project, the company has amended its plan to convert seven trucks to trolley assist operation, now saying a total of 11 trolley-capable Komatsu trucks will be available to use trolley assist in the pit.

Each truck is expected to reduce diesel use by approximately 400 litres per hour, the company says, which equates to approximately 1 t of CO2 emissions.

“The trolley assist system will reduce annual carbon emissions by 30% compared to 2019 levels,” Copper Mountain says. “This is based on calculated savings of 6,000 t CO2e/y for the initial seven trucks as calculated for the trial, which, when scaled to the full fleet of 28 trucks, would produce a savings of 24,000 t CO2e/y, or approximately 30% compared to 2019 levels.”

With additional trolley sections planned over the next five-to-seven years, Copper Mountain says it could see a reduction of carbon emissions of up to 50% compared with 2019 levels.

The fact the Copper Mountain Mine is connected to the BC electricity grid, which has one of the lowest carbon intensities in the world due to being powered by clean and reliable hydroelectric power, makes the trolley assist project even more ‘sustainable’.

The company says it has been working with BC Hydro to upgrade the power supply infrastructure to the Copper Mountain Mine to provide more power for trolley assist and future power demands as it decarbonises and explores additional ways to electrify its operation.

Alongside the trolley assist project, Copper Mountain says it is working with partners to reduce emissions from diesel-powered haul trucks.

In 2021, it established a partnership with Cummins, Komatsu and SMS to test the use of a renewable diesel in haul trucks, and it continues to advance other partnerships to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Outside of trucks, Copper Mountain said it has targets to electrify its shovels in 2023 and drills in 2024.

Also in 2021, Copper Mountain collaborated with the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and IBM to build a digital carbon emissions certification system called Mines Digital Trust. Using blockchain technology to attach ESG disclosures to metal production, this program enabled transparency along the supply chain and allowed third parties to track responsible producers through the Open Climate Network, led by the OpenEarth Foundation and the UN Global Innovation, the company said.

Caravel Minerals takes HPGR use forward to DFS

Caravel Minerals has issued a prefeasibility study update on its namesake project in Western Australia, which, among other things, outlines opportunities to incorporate high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) and coarse particle flotation (CPF).

The company only issued the original prefeasibility study in July of this year. This outlined a dual train plant and infrastructure build costing some A$1.2 billion ($806 million), with parallel development of two 13.9 Mt/y capacity trains for a total throughput capacity of 27.8 Mt/y.

Over an initial 28-year mine life, annual production was expected to come in around 62,000 t of copper in concentrate in this study.

The company said at this point that optimisation studies by Ausenco were already in progress for a single train circa-27 Mt/y design, with the pending results expected to show substantial reductions in capital expenditure and operating costs.

That study has now come out, with the company saying the single train design and the adoption of HGPR and CPF are forecast to reduce processing cash unit costs by up to A$1.23/t of ore and reduce capital costs by around A$100 million.

What’s more, the company is also anticipating reductions in both power demand and water consumption with the use of these new technologies.

After seeing such results, Caravel says it will take forward HPGR use over SAG mills in its definitive feasibility study.

It also said the inclusion of CPF in the process flowsheet had the potential to reduce capital and operating costs when compared with the original prefeasibility study flowsheet.

The original Caravel PFS mentioned the potential use of diesel-electric autonomous haulage trucks with electric trolley assist and electric power for drills and face shovels. Mining operation opportunities also included the use of shovel-grade sensors, with the company saying XRF-based bucket sampling was under consideration.

Ferrexpo signs off on fleet electrification plan with trolley assist deployment

Ukraine-focused iron ore producer Ferrexpo says it is moving forward with a plan to electrify its mining fleet via trolley assist, with the first stage of this transition signed off by the Executive Committee in the first half of 2022.

Part of Ferrexpo’s strategy is to use modern technology to update and expand its operations, and the company has stood firm on this focus despite the ongoing war in Ukraine. This has seen the company continune to invest in autonomous and electric solutions to enable the long-term sustainability of its operations.

In the first half of the year, the Executive Committee met and approved the first stage of the electrification of the mining fleet, representing planning activities for the installation of a trolley-assist network up the haul ramp at its mines. Detailed engineering work is now underway for the conversion of 11 trucks to be electric-drive so that they could serve as a trial for this technology on a larger scale at Ferrexpo’s operations.

“If successful, the group intends to expand this project to include additional trucks and/or additional mines in the deployment of this technology, which is expected to have material benefits,” it said.

Among the benefits highlighted by the company are:

  • Cycle times and productivity: electric-drive trucks operating up-ramp on a trolley-assist network are able to fully utilise the power of the truck’s engine and, therefore, are expected to travel 10-20% faster up the haul ramp. This will reduce cycle times, meaning each truck will be capable of transporting more rock during each shift; and
  • Diesel consumption rates and greenhouse gas emissions: during the fully-loaded, up-ramp part of a haul truck’s cycle, each truck will consume approximately 50% of its diesel consumption. By operating using clean electricity, the group expects to have a material saving on the mining department’s greenhouse gas emissions, since diesel consumption represents the main source of emissions in mining activities, with diesel representing 40% of Scope 1 CO2e emissions in 2021 (2020: 40%).

The iron ore pellet producer previously said it was embarking on scoping studies investigating trolley assist technology at its Poltava mine in Ukraine, as part of its plans to reduce both C1 costs and Scope 1 carbon emissions.

And, in December 2020, Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North, told IM that the company planned to move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years as a precursor to applying trolley assist at the operation.

Antofagasta’s automation and electrification journey bearing fruit

Antofagasta’s purpose of ‘Developing Mining for a Better Future’ has seen the Chile-based copper producer lead from the front in terms of the adoption of both automation and electrification.

The company launched a digital roadmap all the way back in 2017, which, over the following years, has seen it advance projects to automate blasthole drills and haulage trucks, leverage remote operation centres and integrate advanced data analytics into its decision-making process.

Backed by a digitally-literate talent pool and underwritten by a series of roadmap and plans, Antofagasta is setting itself up for the long term.

When it comes to electrification, the company has played a key role in furthering research on the use of hydrogen fuel cells in haulage applications on mine site conditions. It has also signed up as a patron in the Charge On Innovation Challenge, being one of 19 companies looking to accelerate commercialisation of interoperable solutions that can safely deliver electricity to large battery-electric off-road haul trucks.

Outside of consortium projects, it has announced plans to also study and test the development of battery-powered trucks at its Antucoya operation and has outlined plans for a trolley assist pilot project at the Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile.

And, in April 2022, the company reached the goal of all its mines operating on fully renewable power.

Alan Muchnik, VP Strategy & Innovation for Antofagasta, says all of these developments epitomise the company’s overarching aims.

“The objective we have is to develop the next generation of mining practices to enable growth and reduce our company’s environmental footprint,” he told IM.

In addition to the digital roadmap the company outlined five years ago, Antofagasta has been carrying out all its electrification projects under the guise of an Electromobility Plan – part of its wider climate change strategy.

Following the achievement of its previous emissions reduction target of cutting both its Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon dioxide emissions by 300,000 tonnes of CO2e between 2018 and 2022 – a goal it achieved two years early – the company set a more ambitious target in 2021. This is looking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – in line with Chile’s national commitment – and reduce emissions by 30% by 2025, relative to 2020 performance. One element of the company’s efforts to reduce emissions has, as mentioned, seen its operations run solely from renewable energy as of April this year.

According to Antofagasta’s own calculations, in 2020, two-thirds of its greenhouse gas emissions from diesel combustion were attributable to its mine haulage trucks.

Komatsu 980E-5 trucks at Esperanza Sur (part of Centinela)

“In this respect, Antofagasta is actively participating in initiatives that seek to replace the diesel used by mining haulage trucks,” Muchnik said.

“As part of that electromobility roadmap, we have considered our participation in early-adoption projects with a view to pilot and scale promising technologies.”

With the HYDRA Consortium – which includes Antofagasta, ENGIE, Mining3, CSIRO Chile, Liebherr and Mitsui & Co – specifically, the company has been one of the driving forces of hydrogen haulage adoption on mine site conditions.

It has confirmed that it will test a fuel cell and battery powertrain propulsion system at its Centinela mine, with the first HYDRA prototype expected to start functional testing shortly. This will allow Antofagasta to assess the powertrain’s behaviour and performance under real mine conditions, including at high altitude with suspended dust. It will also help establish technical and safety protocols for hydrogen use at scale in mining, which will be vital for the fuel’s successful deployment across the industry.

The trolley assist project at Los Pelambres under study, meanwhile, consists of implementing a trolley system on, first, uphill ramps. This will consist of one lane of a two-lane ramp, which will allow for trucks coming behind to leave the trolley and overtake a stopped truck still on the line.

“Some of these projects may bring an early opportunity to transform specific sites as we transition towards the longer-term prevailing solution to implement at our sites and help reduce our Scope 1 footprint,” Muchnik said.

“Each mine has their unique characteristics and different technologies may become more attractive depending on those characteristics or may become complementary in enabling that diesel replacement.”

Of course, automating the haulage and blasthole drilling processes will help the company reduce its Scope 1 emissions through more efficient operations. It will also help offset some of the higher costs of inputs and inflation that come with operating in Chile.

Similarly, all of Antofagasta’s sites have strong data analytics teams to identify opportunities for efficiency gains and continuous improvement.

Reflecting on the gradual rollout of automation across the company’s operations, Muchnik referred to the overarching roadmap the company outlined in 2017.

“This roadmap considered different strategic programs with rollout options that improve productivity and safety, with automation being a relevant dimension,” he said. “It was built on the concept of knowledge transfer to enable other companies of the group to benefit and learn from the experiences at specific sites.”

That has worked from the looks of it, going from Epiroc Pit Viper autonomous drill deployments at Los Pelambres to the rollout of the technology at Esperanza Sur (part of Centinela).

A fleet of 11 autonomous electric drive Komatsu 980E-5 trucks have also gone live at Esperanza Sur over this time frame.

“Another good part of that is the Integrated Remote Operating Centres (IROC) we have setup to support these operations,” Muchnik said. “We recently opened an IROC for Centinela in the city of Antofagasta and, following the same transfer process, Los Pelambres is expected to go live with their IROC here in Santiago, in the second half of 2022.”

Integrated Remote Operations Centre for Centinela, based in the city of Antofagasta

Muchnik says one of the many benefits of the IROCs is the ability to attract and retain talent for Antofagasta’s operations.

“It is not just about bringing in new talent but working with our people to be allow them to move with this transformation and become digitally literate to help us prepare for an autonomous and remotely-operated future,” he said.

An in-house digital academy that Muchnik and his colleagues launched in 2020 has been vital in this process.

“It has enabled a different mindset within our workforce, preparing them for the transition through training and learning.

“This has ensured all of our employees go through the journey with us.”

Seabridge Gold weighs automation and trolley assist haulage for KSM project

Seabridge Gold has completed an updated prefeasibility study for its KSM Project in British Columbia, Canada, that focuses on open-pit mining only, while planning for both autonomous mine operations and trolley assist haulage.

The 2022 PFS, prepared by Tetra Tech, shows a considerably more sustainable and profitable mining operation than its 2016 predecessor, now consisting of an all open-pit mine plan that includes the Mitchell, East Mitchell and Sulphurets deposits only, it said.

The primary reasons for the improvements in the plan arise from the acquisition of the East Mitchell open-pit resource and an expansion to planned mill throughput – to 195,000 t/d, from 130,000 t/d, the company said.

The many design improvements over the 2016 PFS include a smaller environmental footprint, reduced waste rock production, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a 50% increase in mill throughput and the elimination of capital-intensive block cave mining, it added.

While total capital has been reduced to $9.6 billion (from $10.5 billion) – with increases from inflation and mill expansion being wholly offset by the elimination of block cave mining from the PFS plan – the initial capital cost has increased to $6.4 billion (from $5 billion) due to inflation.

Life of mine production (33 years) at KSM consists of 1.03 Moz of gold, 178 MIb (80,739 t) of copper, 3 Moz of silver and 4.2 MIb of molybdenum.

The open-pit-only mine production plan using ultra class mining starts in the higher grade Mitchell pit, Seabridge Gold says.  Production from the high grade upper East Mitchell zone is introduced in Year 3. Waste mined from the Sulphurets, East Mitchell and Mitchell pit is placed in the Mitchell rock storage facility (RSF) until Mitchell pit is mined out by Year 25. Final waste from East Mitchell is backfilled into the mined-out Mitchell pit from Year 25 onward along with some waste rehandled from the Mitchell RSF.

Autonomous mine operations where applicable and an integrated remote operations centre reduce on-site personnel, the company noted, while adding that electrification of the haul truck fleet with trolley assist would reduce carbon emissions and overall mine energy costs by replacing diesel with low-cost energy from electricity.

First Quantum to operate world’s largest ultra-class truck trolley fleet with Liebherr T 284

The day after announcing it will accelerate the implementation of its existing low carbon solutions and trigger future projects at MINExpo 2021, Liebherr has confirmed that it will supply a further 11 T 284 trucks to operate on trolley lines at First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML)’s Sentinel and Cobre Panama mines with the miner claiming, in the process, the title of the world’s largest ultra-class truck fleet on trolley.

In 2013, Liebherr received an initial request from FQML to develop a 360 t trolley-capable haul truck for mine sites in Panama and Zambia. The trucks were required to integrate with the trolley power line that FQML had designed and developed for the sites.

Agreeing to this partnership, Liebherr engineers began developing, testing and verifying the trolley solution. Two Liebherr T 284 trucks with the Trolley Assist System were commissioned at Sentinel copper mine in Zambia in 2016 and testing of the trolley solution began in February of 2017, with 12 months allotted for the customer to evaluate the trucks, the trolley and the customer service.

At the end of the trial period, FQML expressed it was pleased with the results of the Trolley Assist System and the performance of the T 284, leading to an order for six more trolley-capable T 284 trucks at Sentinel mine, along with 30-trolley-capable T 284 trucks for Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama, Liebherr says.

As a mark of success of the partnership between FQML and Liebherr, along with the performance of the T 284 with trolley solution, FQML recently confirmed an order for a further 11 T 284 trucks. These three trucks for Sentinel mine and eight trucks for Cobre Panama mine will join the existing fleets operating with the Trolley Assist System. This soon-to-be fleet of 38 T 284s in Panama will claim the title of the world’s largest ultra-class truck fleet on trolley, according to Liebherr.

“Trolley Assist truck systems have become integral to the development of First Quantum’s large scale open-pit truck haulage operations,” an FQML representative says. “Over the last decade, First Quantum has emerged as one of the industry leaders in implementation of Trolley Assist systems across mine planning and design, installation, operations, and maintenance. We consider our purpose designed Trolley Assist systems deliver a step change in measurable haulage performance through increased truck productivity, improved maintenance cost, and reduced carbon emissions.

“During the past five years, Liebherr has proven itself as a proactive partner in the development of Trolley Assist capable truck fleet systems. First Quantum has selected the Liebherr T 284 ultra-class truck for some of our Trolley Assist deployments at our large-scale mining operations in Zambia and, more recently, as the sole deployed truck at our Panama mining operations. With a high degree of co-operation between our organisations, we see this partnership continuing to grow in years to come.”

Oliver Hoelzer, Director of Mining Liebherr-Panamá, says: “Even before the arrival of the very first truck, Liebherr Panama’s relationship with FQML Panama has been more of a mutual partnership than a pure business relationship. Our highly committed team recognises that Liebherr’s own success is intrinsically linked to the success of FQML.”

Liebherr has also delivered six trolley-capable 100 t T 236 haul trucks to the Erzberg iron ore mine in Austria, bringing the total number of Liebherr trucks with the Trolley Assist System to 56 once FQML’s newest fleet has been commissioned.

Liebherr aims to offer fossil fuel free solutions for its entire digging, dozing, and hauling product range by 2030.

Ferrexpo to decide on trolley assist-backed haulage project by year-end

Ferrexpo’s decarbonisation and electrification plans in Ukraine are continuing to accelerate, with the company confirming it will make a decision by the end of the year on the selection of a provider for the installation of pantograph network to enable trolley assist haulage at the group’s iron ore mines.

The iron ore pellet producer previously said it was embarking on scoping studies investigating trolley assist technology at its Poltava mine in Ukraine, as part of its plans to reduce both C1 costs and Scope 1 carbon emissions.

In its first half interim results, Ferrexpo said the installation of the network of overhead power cables will enable haul trucks to ascend from the group’s open-pit mines using electricity rather than diesel fuel.

“This technology is expected to provide a significant reduction in each truck’s diesel consumption whilst driving up haul ramps, which will directly reduce the group’s Scope 1 emissions footprint per tonne,” it explained.

In the first half of the year, the group achieved a 6% reduction, year-to-date, in Scope 1 and 2 emissions combined. Following upgrade work on its pelletiser in this period, the group expects production volumes to increase in the second half of the year and, as a result, lower the group’s CO2e footprint on a per tonne basis.

Alongside the company’s latest electrification plans, Ferrexpo also updated investors and interested parties on its progress deploying autonomous haul trucks at the Yeristovo iron ore mine. These were the first large-scale haul trucks to be deployed in Europe when they were introduced in 2020 as part of an agreement with Epiroc and ASI Mining.

Ferrexpo said it now has five Cat 793D haul trucks operating in production areas in autonomous mode, with the conversion of the group’s remaining 793Ds planned as this project advances.

“Fleet automation represents a significant advancement in modern mining techniques, removing individuals from potentially hazardous production areas, whilst also providing benefits in terms of productivity and maintenance,” it said.

Highlights from the company’s first half results included a 74% year-on-year rise in revenues, to $1.35 billion, reflecting positive market conditions and investments in increasing pellet quality. It also increased its underlying EBITDA by 147% ($868 million) compared with the first half of 2020.

Liebherr plans interoperability, scalability and zero emissions announcements at MINExpo 2021

Liebherr will showcase its latest innovative equipment, technology and services for the mining industry at MINExpo 2021, with a world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio and announcements related to its ‘zero emissions’ program likely to provide the ‘headlines’.

Covering a total area of more than 2,600 sq.m, Liebherr’s booth will present advancements from its Mining, Mobile Cranes and Components product segments during the Las Vegas show on September 13-15.

Liebherr Mining will display the R 9150 Generation 7 (G7) 130 t excavator, the next generation of excavator cab from the recently announced R 9600 G8, the PR 776 70 t mining dozer with LiReCon teleoperation system, the newly introduced T 274 305 t haul truck along with a display from Liebherr Components, and the LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane from Liebherr Mobile Cranes.

New developments and exciting announcements will be presented from Liebherr Mining’s new technology portfolio, as well as the pathway forward into low and zero emission mining, it said.

Attendees will be able to interact with new technologies through a virtual reality (VR) booth and discover Liebherr’s technology at daily masterclasses held with Liebherr experts. Those who cannot attend in person will not miss out, with all exhibits, announcements and showcases from the expo also delivered on Liebherr’s website and social media channels.

Liebherr will introduce three new excavators at MINExpo: the R 9150 Generation 7 (machine showcased on the booth), the R 9200 Generation 7, and the brand-new R 9600 Generation 8 (cabin showcased on the booth).

These three machines establish the new naming strategy based on technology levels for Liebherr machines, with this approach designed to achieve a common and long-term logic within the earthmoving and mining product ranges in a clear manner, Liebherr said.

All three excavators are equipped with the latest innovations including Liebherr Power Efficiency, Assistance Systems and Bucket Filling Assistant.

LPE (Liebherr Power Efficiency) is a specific engine and hydraulic management system, which drastically reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%, the company says.

Assistance Systems are advanced on-board applications designed to support the operator to become more efficient through analytics and actionable insights. These will be presented physically in the R 9600’s cabin and on tablets displayed on the booth. Visitors can also discover the Assistance Systems through an immersive experience in the VR area.

BFA, meanwhile, is the first automation product of the Liebherr hydraulic excavator portfolio, which allows the operator to realise the bucket filling process automatically.

T 274 mining truck

Liebherr has recently extended its product offering with the T 274, a class-leading 305 t haul truck. This new truck bridges the gap between the T 284 and T 264.

Designed and adapted from years of experience in mining truck development, the T 274 is a “true 305 t machine” that provides fast cycle times, higher production rates, low fuel consumption and a low cost per tonne, Liebherr said. This new truck follows the same base design as the T 284, benefitting from its decades of field experience. A wide range of options are available including the Liebherr Trolley Assist System and Liebherr Autonomy Kit.

PR 776 dozer and LiReCon teleoperation system

Liebherr will also showcase its flagship mining dozer, the PR 776 Litronic, which, the company says, delivers best-in-class efficiency. The machine will be on display together with the new LiReCon (Liebherr Remote Control, pictured at the top) Liebherr teleoperation system. LiReCon provides additional comfort and safety for operators in tough mining applications, according to the company.

Liebherr components and D98 diesel engine series

Liebherr components for mining applications will also feature at MINExpo. Among the components is the D98 diesel engine series, which is available for both Liebherr and other mining equipment manufacturers, for new and repowered machines. The V-16 engine of the D98 family, the D9816, will not only be on display at the booth but is also at the heart of the exhibited T 274 haul truck. This marks the beginning of the integration of the D98 series into Liebherr machines, Liebherr says.

LRT 1090-2.1 rough terrain crane

The LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane is designed to deliver the highest safety level.

Fitted as standard with an outrigger monitor, which automatically detects the support status and includes the crane control system, it also comes equipped with the VarioBase® variable support base to enhance flexibility on site and increase the crane’s lifting capacity. The LRT 1090-2.1 features a 47 m telescopic boom, which consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a rope extension mechanism. This has been designed for high telescoping lifting capacities.

New innovations

Liebherr will present the world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio at MINExpo. This will demonstrate the company’s interoperable and scalable approach to its equipment, technology and service product offerings, it said.

This portfolio, consisting of Liebherr’s Assistance Systems, Machine Automation and Digital Service products, will provide customers with “flexible scope of supply solutions to increase safety and asset operational effectiveness”, it said.

Together, these products will support operator’s performance, optimise diagnostic processes and automate machine functions, while integrating machine data and OEM expertise within the customer’s chosen technology landscapes, the company added.

Zero emissions

Liebherr says it strives for long-term sustainable solutions, investigating different options focused on safety, cost, reliability, maintainability and flexibility. Liebherr Mining already offers a range of solutions to help customers achieve low emissions, including a full range of electric excavators. It also plans to provide a full range of trolley-capable mining trucks.

“Further to this, Liebherr Mining has a clear vision and roadmap to expand its current offering to achieve low fossil fuel solutions in 2022, along with fossil fuel free solutions for the majority of applications by 2030,” it said. “At MINExpo, strategic partnerships with energy and infrastructure providers will be announced, alongside the roadmap for Liebherr to provide these solutions to our customers.”

State of Play mine electrification report sheds light on benefits, hurdles and risks

More than half of mining industry executives say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons, according to the latest State of Play report on electrification.

With the mining industry rapidly adopting new technologies to decarbonise their operations, the Australia-based State of Play platform has, again, sought to gather industry perspectives on the reasons companies are pursuing their shift away from fossil fuels.

The latest report follows the inaugural State of Play: Electrification report, released in 2020. This report, in part, led to the formation of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaboration between mining and service companies aiming to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

The findings from the latest report – which took into account 450-plus individual surveys, five industry webinars and workshops and five interviews with “thought leaders” – have reinforced that mine electrification is a foundation enabler for the clean energy transformation of mine sites.

“The mining industry sees it as one of the most pressing transformation imperatives for the industry, facilitating precision automation and the digitisation of mine operations, whilst improving environmental and health outcomes,” it said.

At the same time, the report acknowledges that mine electrification technology is currently undergoing a “maturation process” with 49% of mining CEOs referenced in the report believing it will take existing mines on average five-to-10 years to electrify.

“Much of the technology for full electrification of mine sites is available today, however a significant knowledge gap exists across industry relating to the capability of electrified mines and the strategy for implementation,” it said.

Of the industry executives surveyed for the report, 57% expect the energy transition to be ‘the’ global trend that will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 15 years.

Close to 90% (89%) expect mine sites will electrify within the next 20 years and 61% expect the “next generation” of mines will be all-electric.

In keeping with this, 83% expect renewable energy technologies will significantly change mining operations over the next 15 years; and 98% view mine automation as ‘the’ technology to benefit the most from electrification.

The responses related to benefits expected from this transition brought up some of the most interesting insights into the mine electrification evolution, indicating there are environmental, cost and reputation risk advantages associated with electrifying operations.

For instance, of the survey respondents, just over 90% (91%) expected the shift to an electrified system to create opportunities for new business models, while just over half (53%) say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons. The latter indicates that the cost of operating, establishing and maintaining new electrified equipment and infrastructure is now at a point where it could not only compete, but provide an economic advantage over fossil fuel-powered operations in the long term.

Close to four-fifths of respondents (79%) expect there to be a health-related industry class action in the next 15 years – indicating the reputational risk that could come with maintaining the operational status quo.

Some 71% view processing and 68% view extraction as having the greatest leverage in decarbonising the mining value chain, the report confirmed, while 46% expect innovation in carbon emissions and 42% expect innovation in diesel replacement will have the greatest environmental benefit in their business. Close to 90% (86%) expect transparency of the source of raw materials to become a significant driver of mining company value.

In key areas of the value chain, miners are faced with distinct choices of which technology to invest in (eg what type of battery storage technology, swap versus fast charging, etc). Of the survey respondents:

  • 60% believe miners should begin transitioning to an all-electric system with installing renewables. Electrical infrastructure was second with 37%, with heavy mobile equipment third with 32%;
  • 87% expect solar will become the most widely used energy source in the industry in the next 15 years, followed by gas, wind and diesel (58%, 44% and 39%, respectively);
  • 76% expect remote mine sites will use batteries to supplement renewables, followed by diesel with 53% and demand management at 42%;
  • There is no consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment between lithium batteries, hybrids and diesel (28%, 21% and 18% respectively); and
  • 54% expect infrastructure to be the main challenge for transitioning mine sites to electric.

Of these stats above, the lack of consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment is as enlightening as it is expected.

Battery-electric technology has matured to the point where one would expect it to dominate in the underground space, followed closely by fuel cell power, hybrids and some form of trolley, but it is a lot harder to predict the winner in the open-pit mining space, with major miners pursuing different developments related to hydrogen, batteries, trolley assist and alternative fuels.

“The mass adoption of electrification technology and storage systems to power mine sites has so far been slow,” the report stated. “It is clear that as an industry, this knowledge gap will need to be confronted largely through testing and piloting, which allows for the development of case studies for application, economic models and best practice guidelines.”

Of survey respondents:

  • 88% see cost as being the major risk of electrifying a mine site;
  • 63% report that risk aversion is holding back the implementation of electrification technologies;
  • 18% are willing to accept increased risk in asset design to increase financial returns; and
  • 41% are primarily focusing their innovation efforts on energy.

The report authors say the industry should focus on collaborating to overcome the barriers that are beyond the capacity of any one individual company to address, with such efforts requiring the mobilisation of policy makers, miners, service companies, investors and researchers in order to achieve the scale, capital and influence to drive success.

Of survey respondents:

  • The preferred partnering approach for achieving breakthrough innovations is collaborating with selected partners (65%);
  • The majority believe the best way the government can support innovation is through regulation and collaboration (#1 and #2, respectively);
  • 85% believe broad industry standards for battery types are required.
  • 52% see miners as the biggest group driving investment in electrification followed by suppliers and investors (39% and 38%, respectively); and
  • 60% believe the industry should focus its health risk innovation on airborne particulates.