Engineering & Mining Journal

OCT 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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NORDIC TECHNOLOGY 2018 OCTOBER 2018 • E&MJ 35 tonomous systems and fossil-free pro- pulsion. This minimizes the size and di- mension of the supporting infrastructure, which makes mine development easier and that allows deeper mining or more effi cient extraction of low-grade ore. Talking about caring for equipment, Norbakk joked that autonomous machines do not have bad days. "These systems re- duce equipment damage and improve the equipment availability," he said. "Produc- tion increases. Or, from another angle, if the mine maintains the same production level, they can reduce capital equipment costs by running a smaller fl eet. That also reduces operating expenses." "The mining industry works hard to change how its perceived externally," Simoncic said. "Automation and digita- lization are ways to get educated young people excited about our industry and that's quite important." Both Norbakk and Simoncic are excited about the new technology and the levels and opportu- nities that will be achieved in the future that can't even be perceived today. The Push to Electrify Underground Ops More mining companies are looking to install battery-powered equipment under- ground and the original equipment man- ufacturers (OEM) are working with them to develop this technology. Identifying these trends is important as the equip- ment suppliers need time to develop and test the machines. One of those leading the charge is Erik Svedlund, Epiroc's global marketing manager-electrifi cation, who spoke at Euro Mine Expo 2018. "On average, our customers are going 30 m deeper per year and costs increase with depth," Svedlund said. As miners pursue deeper orebodies, rock pressures and temperatures in- crease, which drives costs higher. Main- taining large openings at depth is diffi - cult work. Transportation times for miners increase. Compared to operations on the surface, deep mines in general require more machines to move the same amount of rock and more operators and a larger infrastructure to support them. A prime example would be ventilation. Temperatures increase approximately 1°C for every 100 m. Currently the world av- erage is 1,000 m for metal mining and many mines are approaching 2,000 m, the deepest mines are already below 4,000 m. "The diesel engines we are tak- ing underground are affecting the health of the miners and increasing the tempera- tures in the headings and the ventilation requirements," Svedlund said. "This is why we are quickly moving toward electri- cally powered equipment." Svedlund joined Atlas Copco (Epiroc's predecessor) in 2003 and said he spent much of his career designing new diesel engines to comply with emission regula- tions. "We reduced particulate matter and NOx levels, but future directives call for better air quality and running the clean- est diesel engines won't be an option," Svedlund said. "[The mining business is] the only business allowed to run diesel engines indoors and it's acceptable. We are polluting the air we breathe." For the OEMs, developing a new prod- uct can take fi ve years and developing new technology takes a few more years, Svedlund explained. "If we're going to turn around underground fl eets, it will take a considerable amount of time. The positive side to this is that we started sev- eral years ago" Svedlund said. One of the fi rst battery-electric ma- chines Epiroc developed was a drill rig af- fectionately known as "Betsy." The costs were high and it was complicated, Sved- lund explained, but it worked. "In 2013, we started development of the fi rst bat- tery-powered loader. It was so successful that we launched a product in 2016," Svedlund said. "Loaders and trucks consume about 80% of the diesel fuel shipped underground. If these production machines are not addressed, mining com- panies can't solve the problem." Currently, the biggest push is from the deep mines in eastern Canada and some of the mines in Sweden. "These mines are not being forced by regulators to make this change," Svedlund said. "They see the obvious benefi ts and the miners see the company making the in- vestment for their health. We already hear operators saying things like, 'I don't have a headache when I come home and I have enough energy to play with my children.'" Svedlund claims that Epiroc is leading the way in this area. "We have the most models in production," Svedlund said. "Admittedly, we took some short cuts. For example, these machines do not have air conditioning. If we would have focused on air conditioning, it would have taken an- other year to get these units in production. With these fi rst-generation machines, it Tembo has converted a Toyota Hilux to battery power (see inset). One of the show stoppers outside the Euro Mine Expo event was the battery-powered Toyota Hilux light-duty truck. Manufac- tured in the Netherlands by Tembo Vehi- cles, the truck had a mine-duty frame and powertrain in addition to a battery in the engine compartment. Tembo also makes a Land Cruiser 70 Series for underground use as well. Tembo refers to them as 4x4 electric light vehicles (e-LVs) and so far they have placed them in mines in in Ireland, Canada, Australia and Germany. Electrically-powered Light Vehicles

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