The Re-Electrification of Underground Mining

Decarbonization of mining - a realistic way forward | ABB - Mining  electrification and infrastructure | ABB (Mining solutions | ABB)

There has been a lot of work and publications examining global research and initiatives that are looking to examine the benefits of going with an all-electric fleet of machines for underground mining. One of the major versions of these studies is being undertaken in Sweden. 

The Swedish study was a multi-year project started in 2018 that featured partners from the energy sector, private sector and academia all working together for the goal of reducing the energy consumption of an underground mining quarry by at least 70 percent, while also decreasing the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions of the site by at least 50 percent. 

The need to embrace the quarry or mine of the future, as the study calls them, is being driven by everchanging underground environments. One of the largest factors being manipulated in the underground environment is the ever-inflating cost of ventilation systems, which can often account for over half of a mine’s entire electrical cost – especially if the mine involved requires either a heating or cooling system. 

Mines Of The Future

The idea of running a completely diesel-free mine is not a true reality right now. However, that does not mean that the industry should not be taking a long, serious look at the plans for one. In the not too distant future, the underground mining industry will be heading back to the future, in a sense, as electrified load cars will most likely be used, like they were during the 1960s in order to move ore to passes. 

With all of the advances in technology, the cost of high-performance batteries to power mining equipment and machines is coming down, while the accessibility of these machines is increasing. This means that the development of an all-electric fleet of mining machines and equipment is not only a near reality, it is also increasingly a cost-efficient option, as well. 

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker/SMC. For nearly a half a century, Becker Mining has been at the forefront of safety, producing the best ground fault relay in the industry. Becker/SMC is the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical control systems. Most of the major innovations, design features and specialized electrical components have been developed by Becker/SMC.

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