Glencore Places Order For Battery-Powered Mining Vehicles

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Glencore is one of the largest mining and raw materials companies in the world. Its Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations division has recently placed an order with Sweden’s Epiroc for a full fleet of battery-electric mining equipment for use at the Onaping Depth Project in Ontario, Canada. The nickel and copper mine is located below the existing Craig mine and is being developed to start production in 2024. The order also includes the capability for advanced automation solutions, including remote control. The new mine in Ontario is in response to the loss of nickel from Ukraine as the result of Russia bloody and brutal assault on that country.

“Glencore is taking a major leap forward in the mining industry by going all-electric with its Onaping Depth Project,” says Epiroc CEO Helena Hedblom, in a press release. “We are excited to collaborate with Glencore and deliver battery electric vehicles and automation features on their journey to build a mine of the future.”

electric mining
Epiroc electric mining truck. Image courtesy of Epiroc

Mining machinery has traditionally been powered by diesel engines, but battery-electric machines are becoming more common because they eliminate emissions during operation. That can lower costs by decreasing the need for ventilation and cooling, an important consideration as mines go deeper into the Earth in search of raw materials. They also are far quieter in operation, which benefits machine operators.

“Epiroc scored high on safety, design and testing of the entire battery system,” says Peter Xavier, vice president of 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 23 machines ordered by Glencore include Scooptram loaders, Minetruck haulers, Boomer face drilling rigs, Boltec and Cabletec rock reinforcement rigs, and Simba production drilling rigs. The Simba rigs can be operated remotely from a separate control room. All units will be equipped with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, which allows for remote operation, and Epiroc’s telematics system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time.

According to Electrive, the Scooptram ST14 is a 14-ton underground loader, and the MT42 mine truck has a payload of 42 tons. Batteries for the vehicle and drilling machines are supplied by Northvolt, which has been working with Epiroc for the past four years now, since Epiroc decided to electrify its entire range of machinery. During this time, Northvolt has developed a platform for battery systems tailored to Epiroc machines. Glencore is also getting involved in battery recycling though a partnership with Li-Cycle and is using blockchain technology to insure the ethical sourcing of raw materials.

How cool is it that electric mining machines are being used to extract raw materials for electric vehicles? It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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