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Battery electric vehicles competitive in underground mine – report

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A new study has found that moving from diesel power to an all-electric fleet of underground vehicles is competitive in an Australian mine.

Miner IGO and Perenti Group and ABB released their collaborative white paper which found that converting the Cosmos Nickel Project in Western Australia to an all-electric underground fleet is technically feasible and competitive with diesel.

The Cosmos Underground Electrification Study (pictured) is one of the first pre-feasibility level analyses of the technical and economic aspects of converting an Australian underground mine’s fleet from diesel vehicles to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

Key study findings are:

  • Based on Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) assumptions, BEV fleet offerings matching the productivity of the Cosmos diesel mobile fleet are available
  • The estimated cost to electrify the Cosmos underground fleet was not prohibitive over the envisaged life of mine, even based on conservative productivity and cost assumptions
  • And a Cosmos BEV fleet would enable a significant reduction in cooling and ventilation demands compared to the existing diesel fleet.

The report concluded: “Consequently, the estimated overall power balance of the electrified Cosmos site was on average less than that of the existing diesel operation.”

Perenti Group Executive Sponsor for Electrification and Decarbonisation Raj Ratneser said an all-electric Australian mine was now closer than ever.

Ratneser said: “As BEV technology develops, and our understanding of how these vehicles can be best integrated into an operating mine improves, we expect electric mining solutions to only become more competitive against existing diesel powered options.”

IGO Limited Acting Chief Operating Officer Chris Carr said the electrification of fleets at mining operations would be pivotal in the industry’s commitment to advancing towards net zero emissions.

“In addition, the removal of diesel from underground operations will eliminate diesel particulate matter and other diesel exhaust gases, resulting in improved working conditions and better health outcomes for employees.”

Image: IGO Ltd

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