Mobile PlantSafety

Electric Mine Consortium – what could it mean for underground mining?

2 Mins read

In what is ground breaking news for the mining industry across Australia we have seen the “Electric Mine Consortium” announced last week. This signifies a major collaborative effort between mining corporations and OEM suppliers to collectively work toward zero emission technologies across their projects.

The Electric Mine Consortium’s mission is to support collaboration for electrification and unlock the clean energy transformation of mine sites: “The way the we generate, store and harness energy around the globe is undergoing a period of major change. A global ecosystem has begun to emerge to underpin the innovation and scaling of electrification technologies. A rare trifecta, electrification will provide economic, health and environmental value for the mining industry.”

State of Play, Sandvik, Epiroc, OZ Minerals, South32, Gold Fields, Safescape, Dassault Systemes, Energy Vault, Hahn, Horizon Power, 3ME, IGO and Barminco are the businesses involved within the consortium. It will be interesting to see what news, progress and plans for implementation come from their meetings.

The electrification of the underground fleet will most notably reduce diesel particulates for underground miners within their work environment. This will reduce respiratory problems for miners exposed to fumes, as well as alleviate restrictions at depth when using mobile diesel equipment. It will be interesting to witness the development of underground charging infrastructure, which will have to be placed at suitable locations for all vehicles and plant that may be caught short on their days works.

An Artisan ( which is part of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, Load and Haul division.) Z40 truck showcasing a battery swap at depth

The other area that will need a clever solution is the reduction in noise generated by mobile plant without their loud diesel engines. The amplified noise of a truck hauling up a 1:7 decline notifies others that it is on its way to the surface, well before you can see any lights. The reduced noise from diesel engines is a side effect of the quieter electric engines, which has less moving parts. IoT’s Firefly Smart Light Solution could fit the bill perfectly as it uses multiple smart lights to warn those working underground of activities happening in their vicinity. These could easily be installed on the backs throughout a mine to add another layer of notification to personnel working with electric fleets. Furthermore, it offers a level of collision avoidance between mobile plant, light vehicles and pedestrians.

A diagram showcasing the IoT Firefly Smart Light solution.

The use of solar and wind to generate the power for the new wave of electric powered underground machines will also come under the spotlight. As an underground worker I appreciate the work environment improvements in the mining environment that electric vehicles would facilitate, but it would be great to think of the diesel not just being burned in a surface generator to supply this power. It will be fascinating to watch as these multinational businesses and OEMs push to create a cleaner work environment for both their employees and the world’s benefit!

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