Australia exploring mining industry electric vehicle move

A new initiative in South Australia has created a template for a move towards lowering carbon emissions for mining operations.

A team of experts are working with the mining industry find a pathway to more efficient, green, sustainable and safer mining operations by transitioning to battery-supported electric vehicles (BEVs).

In the project, funded by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) and led by the University of Adelaide, researchers are providing the Australian mining industry with a suite of decision-making tools and guidelines designed to aid their transition towards BEVs and associated stationary machinery in their mining operations.

“About 30-50 per cent of the total mine site energy usage is related to diesel-powered mining vehicles,” said the University of Adelaide’s Dr Ali Pourmousavi Kani, Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. “This represents a significant proportion of current mining operational costs, and the prevalence of diesel fuel usage presents significant health and safety concerns.

“Mining is a critical industry in Australia. It is great to see a growing movement in this industry to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the global transition to renewable energy and electric transportation. Electric vehicles and machinery combined with partial or stand-alone renewable energy powered microgrids will provide a pathway to more efficient, sustainable and safer mining operations.”

Pourmousavi Kani will work on the project, named Assessment, design and operation of battery-supported electric mining vehicles and machinery, or Mine electrification for short, with Associate Professor Wen Soong and Associate Professor Nesimi Ertugrul who are also from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The project was developed in conjunction with and funded by a range of organisations including the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining (DEM), Queensland’s Department of Energy and Public Works (DEPW), the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) and the University of Western Australia.

The project, which has a budget of Aus$2.76 million and lasts for 3.5 years, has said it will enable the resources sector to:

  • reduce the costs and improve the reliability of energy,
  • improve occupational health and safety (OHS), and
  • reduce the carbon footprint of production.

“The project will allow mining companies to understand the benefits and technical risks and costs of implementation,” said Pourmousavi Kani. “It will also assist equipment, technology and service providers to service mining companies during the transition to BEVs.

“End-users will benefit from a de-risked strategy to transition, reduced production costs, reduced energy costs, reduced emissions and an upskilled work force.

“Overall, this project will help the Australian mining industry to remain competitive globally by greening their production and lowering their operational costs.”

Dr Jacques Eksteen is Research Director of the FBICRC said: “This project is highly significant for the FBICRC as it serves as an important development and demonstration project of the uptake of battery technologies in mining vehicles and mobile equipment.

“This application of battery technology offers significant potential benefits to industry and we are keen to invest in developing and enhancing capability in the field of mobile mine electrification.”

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said: “Sustainable mining operations is a focus for South Australia, and the Mining Electrification project demonstrates our leadership and ability to collaborate as we work towards reducing our carbon emissions.”

The Mining Electrification project will form part of the South Australian parliament’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” the Minister said.

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