Technologies to reduce energy consumption and emissions in mining operations

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A mix of technologies will define the future of mining. Be it human safety, better energy utilization, lowering emissions or enhancing overall productivity and life of mines. Adapting to new approaches and technologies is crucial.

Eliminating diesel from the open-pit mining mix

Greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the mine will be reduced by 9% and from transportation will be reduced by nearly 15%.

    Reducing carbon emissions in open-pit operations is a major driver for global mining companies. One of the key challenges to reducing diesel usage is cycle times.

    There is no technology today that enables miners to fill the truck’s tank and complete a shift without stopping; either you increase the speed of the mobile equipment or the size of the fleet itself - both of which have a direct impact on capital expenditure. To circumvent these challenges, mining companies are deploying trolley assist systems for trucks to limit diesel usage while boosting speed-on-grade for greater throughput.

    Emergence of a new generation of diesel-electric trucks that already have an electrical system on-board have gained significant traction as a commercially viable means to facilitate all-electric mines of the future.

Going forward, there are many synergies with using trolley lines, which offer huge benefits in terms of CO2 reduction.By going electric, the vehicles, when on-trolley, only use around 30-50 litres an hour, which equates to a reduction in diesel consumption of as much as 350 litres an hour, making operations much more CO2 efficient.

In addition, the speed of the trucks will increase resulting in a higher throughput. Operators can also start to think about parking some of their fleet, which will bring additional indirect value to overall operational improvements through better maintenance planning to improve fleet availability and fleet longevity.

ABB in partnership with a leading mining company has implemented the trolley assist systems in an open-pit copper mine. The aim is to reduce annual diesel usage by 800,000 liters and carrying 70 Mt of ore every year at the mine without using fossil fuel for four haulage trucks on a 700 meter trolley line.

The biggest challenge lies in redesigning existing diesel-powered mines to integrate new electrification systems. Asset lifecycle strategies, ownership models and duty cycles are all subject to change. A very clear technology roadmap is essential to make the transition. Read more.

Breath of fresh air - ventilation on demand

People safety is of paramount importance especially in mines where sufficient and clean air is vital. People and equipment must work in tandem while ensuring overall safety and optimal throughput.

ABB’s ventilation on demand (VoD) solutions provide mine workers with clean air where and when they need it and manage constraints in hybrid mines that combine diesel and electric machinery. With ABB’s digital technologies ventilation can match actual demand.

VoD systems learn and adapt over time with more data, intelligently adjusting and optimizing air flow to maximize air quality and minimize consumption. Potential problems are also identified more quickly, and blast gases are evacuated faster, decreasing downtime. Controlling mine ventilation can result in annual energy savings of up to 50%.

ABB uses a positional tracking system to locate people and vehicles in the mine, and track their ventilation demands. An algorithm then calculates the optimal set points at which fans must operate, which are connected to the central ABB Ability™ System 800xA DCS.

A combination of technologies that enhance operational safety and commercial viability will determine the future of mines. ABB will continue to partner with customers to develop safer and more energy efficient mining operations. Read more.

    Breath of fresh air – ventilation on demand

    ABB installation at state-owned Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground copper mine, in Chile

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