SA researchers tackle tools to electrify mining

The University of Adelaide will lead a project to develop tools and guidelines for mining’s transition to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), funded by companies including BHP Nickel West, IGO, and a raft of industry bodies.

The $2.76 million project will reduce energy costs while improving safety and sustainability across the industry.

The project has been named Assessment, design and operation of battery-supported electric mining vehicles and machinery, or Mine electrification for short, and will be funded by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC).

The FBICRC is made up of participants including BHP Nickel West, IGO Limited, Energetics, Galaxy Resources, Multicom Resources, the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining, Queensland’s Department of Energy and Public Works, the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, and the University of Western Australia.

Lead researcher Ali Pourmousavi Kani from the University of Adelaide’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said the research could affect a significant proportion of mining’s emissions.

“About 30-50 per cent of the total mine site energy usage is related to diesel-powered mining vehicles,” Kani said.

“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.”

The project will run for 3.5 years, sharing the findings with the industry to allow a broad movement of sustainable change to occur.

Kani said the research should be relevant to multiple parts of the industry, rather than just the mines themselves.

“The project will allow mining companies to understand the benefits, and technical risks and costs of implementation,” Kani said.

“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.

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