Published 01-06-2021
| Article appears in June 2021 Issue

Global competition to develop a new technology to electrify haul trucks

big trucks

The development of new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems to help cut emissions from surface mine operations and unlock safety, productivity, and operational improvements, has been given a boost by the Charge On Innovation Challenge.

Three of the world’s biggest resource companies, BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale have launched the global competition to encourage innovators to develop ways to electrify mine truck fleets, using new technology.

In partnership with Australia’s Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) industry body Austmine, the three resource companies expect additional interest from resource companies that maintain substantial haul truck fleets and support electricity delivery to large battery-electric haul trucks. 

Current stationary charging systems require substantial time to charge large trucks, which can result in significant lost productivity. 

The mining industry needs multi-megawatt scale fast-charging concepts capable of delivering around 400kWh to charge (and propel) a truck within the truck’s haul cycle (load, travel, dump, return, queue).

Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart said METS and mining companies are united on the Challenge to reduce emissions across the supply chain.

“With 80% of METS companies supplying products and services outside mining, the Challenge leverages the experience and innovation of industries in the automotive, battery makers, aerospace, defence and other sectors.”

There is an expectation that the Challenge will attract companies from sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defence to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks.

President of BHP Minerals Australia Edgar Basto explained that the Challenge will stimulate innovative ideas, which could be applied to existing diesel-electric equipment and help fast-track longer-term solutions. 

“We understand that these challenges will not be solved overnight, but together we can find the best concepts that can be applied across the industry,” said Mr Basto. 

Rio Tinto Group Executive - Safety, Technical and Projects, Mark Davies, said that the initiative is a global call-out to innovators to change the way haul truck systems operate in the mining sector.

“Partnerships across a diverse range of sectors can drive significant technological change, an important, industry-wide approach that has potential to create new jobs and opportunities for suppliers, both globally and locally,” Mr Davies added. 

Carlos Mello, Ferrous Engineering Director of Vale, acknowledged that mine electrification requires considerable integration between mine planning and operations. 

“We need to develop new charging solutions that can be incorporated into our operations in parallel to the development of battery trucks, to ensure we create a truly sustainable electric haulage system in all aspects – clean, competitive and flexible,” he said.

The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry and mobile equipment manufacturers to decarbonise mining fleets. 

In addition to a zero-carbon energy source, the conversion of mobile mining equipment to battery electric can potentially unlock value, as electric motors have fewer moving parts when compared to standard equipment.

Many non-traditional mining sector vendors are actively developing technologies that can be applied to mine electrification. 

The Challenge is expected to demonstrate an emerging market for charging solutions in mining, accelerate commercialisation of solutions, and integrate innovations from other industries into the mining sector.

The Challenge Expression of Interest process opened in May. Candidates who make the short list are expected to pitch their concepts later this year.

 Charge On Innovation Challenge:Global Competition


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