An electrification update from the mining sector

Jon Lawson

First Mode and Anglo American are teaming up to create a carbon-neutral powerplant for a large hauler, destined to go into service later this year at the platinum mine in Mogalakwena, South Africa. Should the project prove a success First Mode is to set about converting all of Anglo-Americans fleet of ultra-class (300 ton) trucks of which there are currently some 400 in service. The company has estimated this equates to taking 280,000 carbon dioxide emitting cars off the road.

At the heart of the system is a 2 MW hydrogen-fuelled powerplant designed and built by First Mode at its Seattle headquarters. As part of the agreement First Mode is also going to supply hydrogen infrastructure for refuelling, charging the batteries and producing the gas.

“Our vision is to develop turnkey decarbonisation strategies across heavy industries like rail, mining and maritime, providing the same level of service that operators are used to today,” noted Rhae Adams, chief operating officer of First Mode. “While we are starting today with the retrofit of existing customer vehicles, we look forward to working with a wide range of OEM platform makes and models, including new vehicles.”

New electric excavator

Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe) is expanding its range of emission-free equipment with the launch of the ZX55U-6EB. It’s the firm’s first foray into the five tonne battery-powered excavator class.

Users can choose between wired operation when machine is connected to a CEE 400VAC 3-phase power source or it can be used purely on its own 39kWh lithium-ion battery. It's been created with lessons learned from the larger eight tonne XE85 electric excavator developed in conjunction with KTEG.

It’s quiet, at 91dBs, and there’s the option to monitor the electric drive system including the battery level and load remotely. “Hitachi is delighted to offer our customers a new battery-powered model capable of working productively and efficiently in small spaces,” said HCME president Takaharu Ikeda. “We are working hard to meet the growing demand for zero-emission equipment and listening carefully to our customers’ requirements for improved safety, increased productivity and reduced life-cycle costs.”

Canadian mine order

Epiroc has been awarded a contract worth over MSEK 100 (around 9M Euro) by Glencore in Canada for battery-electric equipment and automation solutions that will be used at what will be one of the world’s first all-electric mines.

The plan is to develop a nickel and copper mine for production at the Onaping Depth Project in Ontario by 2024. “Epiroc scored high on safety, design and testing of the entire battery system,” noted Peter Xavier, vice president of Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations. “Epiroc also offers large capacity batteries, uses a standard CCS charging protocol, has a battery swap system, and the designs are universal and compatible. Also, the batteries have integrated cooling systems and safety systems built into the design.”

The machinery will be made in Örebro, Sweden. The 23 machines ordered include Scooptram loaders, Minetruck haulers, Boomer face drilling rigs, Boltec and Cabletec rock reinforcement rigs, and Simba production drilling rigs. These rigs will be operated in part remotely from a control room. All units will be equipped with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, making them ready for automation and remote control, and will also be installed with a telematics system, allowing for monitoring of performance and productivity in real-time.



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