Sub-Sahara Mining & Industrial Journal
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Dual fuel truck equipped with technology from Mine Energy Solutions

Are you also partnering with the major OEMs directly on access to early prototypes of battery electric trucks?

MW: As with many of the major miners, yes, we are working with OEMs on access to early prototype battery trucks, this includes Caterpillar’s Early Learner Program and Komatsu’s Power Agnostic truck alliance. But this is unlikely to be the only solution for us as a mining services provider.  We are also looking at putting our resources into working with industrial partner companies on a whole of life battery solution for customers. MACA is already partnering with AVL Engineering, Mitsui and Foresee Power to potentially create a modular style of battery, which means that we will be able to change the battery chemistry depending on the infrastructure that is available at our client sites. This agnostic approach to battery chemistry as well as being able to utilize a flexible energy mix, potentially including hydrogen/ammonia-based, solar, natural gas and wind power but also other clean power sources, may be crucial to succeeding in the new mining market. It is also worth remembering that there is also going to be a big interplay between your battery mining trucks and your fleet management, energy management and autonomy systems. No-one has that in place yet but some major miners including Fortescue are working on it. As an example, we are working with them at Iron Bridge with a mining services agreement using Liebherr trucks, and this mine will be one of the first operations to use some of this zero emissions technology, with a vision to supply green magnetite iron ore to produce green steel. It’s important to know not only when the truck needs to recharge, but the optimal charge level to recharge the truck, based on the mining circuit’s haul cycles. We are looking at partnerships to enable this. We are also looking at emissions reduction opportunities, working closely with clients on how we can achieve a true mine of the future.

Is there a place for trolley assist and IPCC in your mine of the future vision and to what extent are you offering these as options for customers?

MW: Yes, trolley assist haulage systems have a lot of potential and all of the major miners are looking to this, due to the potential to charge battery trucks. The OEMs see it as a faster way to get battery trucks commercially running as they will recharge on the ramp. For Thiess, this wouldn’t be viable under a short term contract. That said, most of our contracts are long term – at least eight years and some more than 20 years. For us, this system would mean taking a partnership approach with the client as part of helping them position themselves at the forefront of sustainable mining. And as the largest surface mining services provider, we need to be able to offer trolley systems as an option, working with the OEMs and other partners.

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