When it comes to lowering emissions and pollutants,1 the mining industry faces formidable obstacles. The nature of mining work necessitates the clearance of land, the use of chemicals and the use of heavy vehicles for digging and processing.
Image Credit: Stäubli Electrical Connectors
Mining vehicles are a major contributor to the overall missions from mining sites. Mining vehicles account for 50-80 % of the direct carbon emissions at the mine.2 As mining operations are more established and ore resources necessitate longer transporting distances, the amount of vehicular emission is often higher.
With 68 million tons of CO2 being emitted by approximately 28,000 hauling trucks every year, there is huge potential for reducing the overall environmental impact of mining simply by addressing vehicular emissions.2 Currently, the ICMM – one of the major mining industry bodies – is looking at replacing all mining vehicles with electric vehicle (EV) alternatives by 2050.2
While EVs are becoming more popular in many countries, and better vehicle charging infrastructure is making them more accessible, replacing heavy-duty mining vehicles has certain limitations that smaller domestic vehicles do not encounter.
Mining sites are frequently located in rural areas with harsh terrain. Since hauling lengths can be quite lengthy, there must be reasonable confidence in the batteries within the EVs to ensure that they can maintain their charge over long distances while moving several tons of material. Due to all of these constraints, batteries must be extremely reliable, and any weight-saving or enhanced capacity is crucial.
Despite these obstacles, companies such as Stäubli, however, are pioneering several innovative technology solutions to make EVs a more feasible alternative. These innovative developments are assisting the mining industry in making the critical shift to zero-emission vehicles for a cleaner future.
Stäubli, a leader in industrial innovation, has created an automatic connecting device for high-power system charging. Due to their sheer size, mining vehicles tend to encounter a larger number of difficulties in comparison to household vehicles, as more electrical infrastructure is required to meet their higher power demands.
The automated connection device (QCC) from Stäubli offers a standard method for quickly recharging a variety of heavy-duty electric vehicles, including buses, boats, and trucks. The technology is capable of transferring the high level of power required for the fast recharge of both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors.
This innovation also leads the way for a new model for electric vehicles – lightweight, small batteries with frequent charging for an overall more efficient vehicle that no longer has to carry the burden of large battery storage capacity.
Just 20 minutes of charging provides 4-5 hours of continuous use.
Amongst other applications, the technology has also proven successful in operation for more than five years in Singapore's world's largest container terminal, which make use entirely of autonomous vehicles and can also be combined with Stäubli’s battery maintenance systems for complete reliability and minimal downtime.
With the capacity to expand power and design, the QCC system is future-proof and can deliver up to 1500 V and 670 A continuously or 1000 A briefly for very fast charging.
There are now several global targets that have been proposed to help achieve decarbonization by 2050.
The positive environmental impact and benefits electric vehicles could have in the mining industry are clear, as is the need to change current practices. However, achieving these may appear overtly expensive.
The connection device from Stäubli also has the advantage of being easily retrofitted to existing infrastructure. The use of automated connection devices eliminates the need for extensive construction while also enabling the use of vehicles with smaller batteries.
The advantages of quick EV charging can be incorporated into existing facilities without requiring extensive modification due to the small footprint of these charging outlets.
References and Further Reading
- Fugiel, A., Burchart-Korol, D., Czaplicka-Kolarz, K., & Smoliński, A. (2017). Environmental impact and damage categories caused by air pollution emissions from mining and quarrying sectors of European countries. Journal of Cleaner Production, 143, pp. 159–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.136
- ICMM (2023) Greener and safer vehicles, https://www.icmm.com/en-gb/our-work/cleaner-safer-vehicles#:~:text=Mining%20vehicles%20account%20for%2C%20on,in%20service%20is%20diesel%2Dpowered. Accessed February 2023
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Stäubli Electrical Connectors.
For more information on this source, please visit Stäubli Electrical Connectors.