Glencore's former CSA Mine at Cobar, in regional New South Wales, is one of Australia’s highest grade copper mines. The underground mine, which operates 24/7, produces about 50,000 tons of copper each year. The metal is mined and processed onsite and then transported to the Port of Newcastle for export to smelters in Asia.
CSA Mine currently uses diesel loaders as part of its excavation operations in the mine. These loaders haul around 50,000 tons of copper every year, but produce heat, noise, moisture and emissions, so the 2,000m deep mine must be kept well ventilated. Last year, CSA Mine invested in its first battery electric loader – the Epiroc ST14 – which is more than 2.5m tall and capable of carrying up to 14 tons of copper each.
As the mine operates 24/7, downtime waiting for EV batteries on the dump trucks to be charged should be as short as possible. To provide power for the mine's battery electric loader, ABB created a bespoke fast charging solution, situated 1,000m underground, to deliver 150kW of DC power to fully charge each truck in less than two hours.
Based on ABB’s Heavy Vehicle Electric Charger technology, originally built to charge city buses, the customized plug-in solution is housed in an air-conditioned kiosk, rugged enough to withstand extreme operating conditions underground, including high ambient temperatures, humidity, vibrations and dust. The solution also includes state-of-the-art digital tools such as ABB Charger Connect and ABB Ability™ Energy & Asset Manager, which allow Glencore to monitor their underground charging network and maximize their energy efficiency.
Peter Christen, General Manager of CSA Mine, said: “We are committed to reducing emissions across our operation and our investment in a battery electric loader is an important step forward. ABB has provided us with a fit-for-purpose fast charging solution for the loader, which can significantly increase its efficiency by increasing the number of hours it can operate.”
Epiroc’s Brett Kenley, Electrified Solutions Product & Sales Support Lead, Australia/Asia Pacific, added: “We are proud to be part of this milestone project with CSA Mine to support their electrification journey. Our Scooptram ST14 battery electric loader is a 100% fossil-free loader for underground application. Its energy regeneration ensures low energy consumption and extends driving range. With the electric drive, this battery loader outperforms diesel equivalents, especially on grade.”
These loaders need to be charged with 150 kW of direct current power by systems rugged enough to operate seamlessly in the underground environment’s higher ambient temperature, dust and moisture levels.
“From electric vehicle batteries to solar panels, copper is a key element in delivering a zero emissions future. This is driving demand for copper, which is expected to grow by 350 percent by 20501. At the same time, manufacturers are increasingly focused on the whole life cycle impact of their products, so need the entire supply chain to improve its environmental performance,” said Sean Stove, head of E-Mobility Division, ABB Australia. “Our innovative underground charging solution is just one of many ABB technologies helping the mining industry to reduce its carbon footprint and deliver the natural resources for zero and low-carbon power solutions as efficiently as possible.”
ABB’s innovation underpins transition to emission-free underground mining
ABB engineered and delivered a customised electric charging solution to effectively charge the Epiroc vehicle and deliver on the mine's electrification needs. ABB’s charging infrastructure is fit for purpose for the underground environment which has to handle challenges such as high ambient temperature, moisture and dust.
ABB supplied its Heavy Vehicle Electric Charger (HVC-150C), originally built for charging city buses, which can deliver 150kW of charging power. This equipment is a plug-in style unit, using the CCS2 outlet. ABB worked with its long-term partner Trivantage to design, build and test a specially air-conditioned IP66-rated kiosk and switchboard arrangement capable of housing and supplying power to the HVC, built to last in the tough underground environment.
“As part of ABB’s 2030 sustainability strategy, we are focused on helping our customers, like Glencore, get to net zero through alternative power innovations,” said Sean Stove, head of E-Mobility Division, ABB Australia.
“Configuring the fast charging solution into a kiosk for underground mining is an Australian innovation, which is now being offered to other mining customers. As part of our 2030 sustainability strategy, we are focused on helping our customers unlock the potential of e-mobility with state of the art and intelligent charging solutions.”
Apart from two HVC-150C chargers and power cabinet kiosks complete with switchboards, ABB is also provided ABB Charger Connect and ABB Ability™ Energy & Asset Manager as energy and asset management systems. ABB is also providing onsite commissioning and training for both chargers. This enables ABB and Glencore to have visibility of the equipment 24/7 and monitor it’s charging and power system outputs.
The fast chargers run on the ABB Ability™ Connected Services Platform, part of the ABB Ability™ portfolio of digital solutions that benefit from cloud connectivity to enhance uptime, scalability and operational efficiencies, as well as to provide real-time remote support services. Network operators have 24-hour availability of the charging infrastructure to perform tasks remotely, such as monitoring diagnosis and upgrades and ensuring reliable and efficient infrastructure.
“ABB is a leader in the EV charging infrastructure segment,” said CSA Mine’s Peter Christen. “The solution that ABB have provided us at CSA Mine has fully met a set of new requirements following our investment in a new battery electric loader, enabling us to ensure it is as productive as possible.”
ABB’s EV charging stations and critical EV charging infrastructure components, such as substations, energy storage systems, and eco-friendly switchgear, are designed so that EV charging stations, once installed, are both future-proof and scalable. By installing this solution from ABB, a world leader in EV infrastructure, CSA Mine can continue producing copper more efficiently, in a safe and environment-friendly way.