Landmark study by IGO, Perenti and ABB confirms technical feasibility of an all-electric underground mine fleet in Australia

Landmark study by IGO, Perenti and ABB confirms technical feasibility of an all-electric underground mine fleet in Australia

The Cosmos Nickel Project in Western Australia could potentially employ an all-electric underground mine fleet, as revealed by a collaboration between IGO Limited, Perenti, and ABB. Their study suggests that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) could compete with diesel vehicles in terms of productivity and cost over the life of the mine. Additionally, BEVs could reduce cooling and ventilation demands, offsetting the extra power they require. The study, one of the first of its kind in Australia, analyzed various aspects such as mine design optimization, fleet selection, and infrastructure design.

The planned underground diesel fleet includes heavy trucks, loaders, drills, charge rigs, and light vehicles. BEVs would utilize battery swapping stations, swapping batteries two to three times per shift. Charging stations would be strategically located to minimize unproductive time during loading/unloading or shift changes.

Raj Ratneser, Perenti Group Executive Sponsor for Electrification/Decarbonisation, believes that an all-electric mine is becoming increasingly viable as technology advances and industry attitudes change. Max Luedtke, Global Business Line Manager for Mining at ABB Process Industries, emphasizes the potential for energy efficiency and reduced CO₂ emissions with electric vehicles, noting their higher tramming speeds compared to diesel equivalents.

While managing fully electric fleets is more complex, the study suggests that strategic placement of swapping stations and charging points can maintain productivity. Further investigation areas include detailed modeling of BEV loading and haulage, fleet optimization, and communication network considerations.

Chris Carr, Acting Chief Operating Officer at IGO Limited, sees the study as evidence of the technical feasibility of electrifying underground mining fleets. Electrification aligns with the industry's goal of moving towards net zero emissions and improving working conditions for employees by eliminating diesel exhaust gases.

High level findings from the Study have been published in a White Paper. To access follow this Media Access link

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