Liebherr has made a name for itself as an OEM, but the company is also passionate about helping the mining sector along its decarbonisation journey.
As managing director at Liebherr-Australia, Trent Wehr is proud of the work the company is doing to transition to net-zero.
“With a mining fleet, achieving net-zero can be difficult, but it’s not impossible,” Wehr said.
“Most major mining companies have an aggressive schedule in place to get to net-zero and that schedule allowed us to start exploring and expanding our offerings at Liebherr.
“We want to ensure that our customers are met with optimised and efficient solutions to tackle their own net-zero initiatives. Our customers are always front of mind when we are developing new technologies and solutions.”
Liebherr-Australia Mining Technology Development Centre
Liebherr-Australia introduced its Mining Technology Development Centre in 2022.
“Our Mining Technology Development Centre is the centrepiece of our broader decarbonisation strategy,” Wehr told Australian Mining. “It underpins what we need to do to offer fossil-fuel-free mining equipment to our Australian customers.”
As a central hub for the development and implementation of the company’s zero-emission, low-emission, autonomous, and additional technology projects in Australia, the Mining Technology Development Centre and its new team are helping the company develop zero-emission equipment closer to home.
“It was important for us to have close proximity to our market,” Wehr said. “Having close proximity to our existing team in Perth and the mines who are actually using our products is pivotal. As Liebherr works to offer net-zero alternatives to diesel equipment, being closely situated to major mines and customers means development and validation can be accelerated.
“As you evolve technology at such a rapid rate, there’s a lot of validation that needs to occur, particularly on mine sites.
“We need to go through a lot of regulation changes and standard changes. If you haven’t got the proximity to the mine sites, it can take far longer to achieve the desired outcome.”
Liebherr Mining electric excavators
The Mining Technology Development Centre has allowed Liebherr-Australia to grow its capability to support electric excavators and trucks, including truck trolley options, as it makes market entry into Australia.
Although neither piece of equipment is new to the company, Liebherr is constantly refining its offerings to ensure it meets the needs of the industry.
“Electric excavators have been in our business for over 40 years, but what is new to this space is our electric backhoe with a new cable reeler concept,” Wehr said. “We wanted to utilise our advanced electric technology and configure it for use with a backhoe excavator, which is a new concept for the Australian market.
“We took some of our learnings and knowledge that we’ve gleaned in different markets to make sure we bring that knowledge to Australia and apply it locally.”
Wehr said that one of the biggest concerns with switching to electric equipment was the adaptation, given mine sites have utilised diesel power for such a long time.
“We are wanting to show the possibilities of these electric machines,” he said. “We know that processes have to undergo some significant changes to implement them; however, it is a method that most miners can get their heads around quite quickly.”
Liebherr currently has over 60 electric excavators spread across the globe, including in North America, China and South Africa.
Liebherr Mining battery-electric trucks
Once it has been successfully validated over the course of the next few years, Liebherr’s battery-electric truck will bring emissions-free hauling to the market.
“Trucks fleets are obviously a significant consumer of diesel,” Wehr said. “A mine could have a fleet of trucks well into the hundreds, and each requires diesel to run. But battery-electric trucks on their own, or paired with trolley, put a stop to this and reduce a mine’s carbon footprint significantly.
“Even the trolley solution on our diesel-electric trucks can drastically reduce emissions on site.”
Today, Liebherr’s global fleet of trucks that operate on trolley with the Liebherr Trolley Assist System exceeds 60 machines spread across Panama, Zambia and Austria, with additional units in the pipeline.
Within this global fleet, Liebherr supports the world’s largest 360t trolley truck fleet, and runs on the world’s longest trolley line.
Developing proven zero-emission and low-emission mining solutions has become a major focus for Liebherr Mining. But the company also understands that to reach lofty emission goals on a global scale, the work can’t stop here.
“The equipment and solutions we already have in place are just the beginning,” Wehr said. “We are dedicated to providing solutions for the Australian mining industry to meet their net-zero commitments.
“We are excited to soon be able to share our available mining emission solutions with everyone, and the Liebherr-Australia team is looking forward to working with customers on application-specific and custom solutions to suit their desired needs and zero-emission targets.
“There’s a lot more to come.”
This feature appeared in the September 2023 issue of Australian Mining.