OEMS, Sustainability

Crushing carbon emissions

Through a sustainably minded Powerscreen, the Australian resources industry is gaining insight into what an electrified material handling sector looks like.

Given the remote geographies and harsh conditions of Australian mining, electrifying the industry’s material handling sector is not easy.

But as marketing manager of one the world’s largest manufacturers of crushing, screening and conveyor equipment, Dermot McCracken believes this presents an exciting opportunity.

“The mining sector probably has the best potential of the industries we work in (to decarbonise its material handling equipment) because of the scale of the companies that work in that space,” McCracken told Australian Mining.

Many Tier-1 miners generate the margins to fund innovation and new technologies, and this is being put to good use, with more capital than ever being spent on electrifying machinery such as haul trucks and loaders.

Decarbonising material handling equipment, such as crushers and screeners, can also be part of the equation, and Powerscreen already has technologies to support this.

What starts with Powerscreen’s inherently sustainable mobile design is furthered by the Powerscreen Hybrid range, which when powered off the grid can reduce on-site carbon emissions by approximately 57 per cent per tonne of material produced.

An extension of the Hybrid series is the Powerscreen Chieftain 2100XE, an electric-powered screener generating plenty of attention within the Australian mining industry.

“The Chieftain 2100XE is a hybrid screener, where the only diesel you’re essentially using is to transport the machine,” McCracken said. “When we demoed the Chieftain 2100XE at Hillhead 2022 (a biennial quarrying conference in the UK), it attracted a lot of interest from all corners of the globe, including Australia.”

Current Powerscreen customers operating in the Australian mining industry suggested the Chieftain 2100XE could be even more suitable to their operations if the genset – the screener’s power generator – was track-mounted.

Such an offering would replace a wheel-mounted genset and enable miners to freely transport the genset around the vast and rough terrains of an Australian mine site.

So Terex – Powerscreen’s parent company – has got to work with two other UK innovators, CATAGEN and Wrightbus, on a screener that could meet these needs.

The Powerscreen Hybrid range can reduce on-site carbon emissions by 57 per cent per tonne of material produced.

“If we bring this prototype with a tracked genset to the market, we think that’s a potential game-changer for mining in Australia, and for remote quarries everywhere,” McCracken said.

“Hopefully at the end of this project, we’re able to say to our mining customers, ‘Here’s a hybrid-powered crusher, a hybrid-powered screen and a tracked genset to go with it’. This is a completely different conversation to anything we’re having today.”

McCracken said the possibility of a tracked genset also opens the door for a larger genset, which could support larger hybrid screeners or crushers in the future.

Powerscreen is also set to launch an electric option for its Premiertrak 450 crusher, which McCracken believes could tick boxes for the mining industry.

“The Premiertrak 450E could be an entry-level opportunity for miners to enter the electric space because it is a mid-to-large-sized crusher that can offer the level of production customers need,” he said.

Backed by four pillars, Powerscreen’s decarbonisation strategy is gaining momentum, generating solutions for a material handling industry not naturally conducive to decarbonisation.

As McCracken indicated, Powerscreen is beginning to put “meat on the bones” of its decarbonisation strategy.

“We have a pretty clear path of different industries, different insights and what our product portfolio looks like,” McCracken said.

“Where we’re at in five years is usually the strategy but we’re now getting insights into five-to-10 years from now.

“In crushing and screening, it’s normally about, ‘When’s the next machine coming out?’, rather than looking longer term, and in mobile crushing and screening it’s usually about, ‘Who can make the next biggest crusher and the next biggest screen?’.

“It’s not about who can make this hybrid-powered machine with a track genset that still meets our requirements. That’s the space we’re going into.”

As Powerscreen conceptualises what a decarbonised material handling industry looks like, industrial sectors across the world have answers to their net-zero questions.

This includes the Australian mining industry, which through Powerscreen supplier Lincom Group, will be first to access the hybrid-powered Premiertrak 450E or a Chieftain 2100XE with a track-mounted genset.

This alongside every other electrified solution Powerscreen engineers in the future.

This feature appeared in the December 2023 issue of Australian Mining.

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