Nowhere is the Cummins engine brand more prevalent than in the mining industry, where pit-to-port operations take advantage of the company’s incredibly broad portfolio of power solutions.
In fact, Cummins engines power more types of equipment in more markets than any other engine brand with a range of diesel and gas products that deliver outputs from 49 hp to a colossal 4400 hp and displacements from 2.8 to 95 litres.
The mining industry has certainly come a long way since a 50 hp, four-cylinder Cummins Model F engine powered the very first diesel shovel in 1926.
Today, the Cummins name is stamped on a vast array of equipment ranging from small welders in workshops to 800-tonne excavators with massive breakout force, powered by dual 2000 hp QSK60 engines.
Whether it’s diesel or gas generator sets, powerpacks for mine dewatering, people carriers, drill rigs, tugs, barges, locomotives, compact machines for underground mining, ultra-class excavators and dump trucks, the Cummins brand is prominent.
While there’s a lot of talk around electrification, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, ‘clean’ diesel is still an important part of Cummins’ product portfolio and will continue improving in the years ahead as decarbonisation increasingly gets traction across the mining industry.
“There are still significant efficiency gains that Cummins can squeeze out of internal combustion engine technology to further assist mining companies reduce greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric pollutants,” Cummins Asia Pacific mining business director and general manager Steve Cummins said.
“As the world’s largest supplier of high horsepower diesel engines for mobile mining equipment, Cummins has the development tools necessary to do great things, especially with diesel expected to remain the dominant fuel source for heavy off-highway applications for some time.”
He points out that the first fleet of Cummins QSK60 engines complying with stringent Tier 4 Final emissions levels is now in service in haul trucks and excavators in the NSW Hunter Valley – the only high horsepower Tier 4 Final engines operating in Australia and they’re providing a massive reduction in particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.
In fact, Cummins’ entire high-horsepower QSK range spanning 19, 23, 30, 38, 50, 60, 78 and 95 litres is now offered with Tier 4 Final emissions compliance using SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology.
Of course, the challenge is producing cleaner-running engines while not compromising life cycle costs, and Cummins is working with mining companies to deliver a technology road map that not only reduces fuel consumption but also results in increased engine life and longer service intervals.
“It wasn’t so long ago that a life-to-overhaul of 21,000 hours was acceptable in high horsepower dump truck applications,” Cummins said.
“Now mining companies are achieving well in excess of 30,000 hours with our industry-leading QSK products, along with reduced midlife costs and longer service intervals.
“We’re also seeing fuel savings as high as 10 per cent which is far-reaching not only in terms of cost reduction but also greenhouse gas emissions reduction.”
The QSK95 is the highest-horsepower diesel engine ever developed by Cummins and has recently been launched for ultra-class mine truck and heavy-haul locomotive applications with a top rating of 4400 hp.
The 95-litre V16 Cummins brings into focus the fact that most diesel-electric locomotives operating for mining companies in Australia are Tier 0 (non-emission) units.
Compared with Tier 0 locomotives, the Tier 4 Final QSK95 solution offers fuel savings in excess of 10 per cent along with huge reductions in particulate matter (95 per cent), oxides of nitrogen (86 per cent), and hydrocarbons (86 per cent).
CO2 (greenhouse gas) savings amount to 380 metric tons per locomotive per year. Other heavy-haul locomotive engines offered by Cummins include the QSK50, QSK60 and QSK78 spanning 2000 to 3300 hp.
Innovation is driving Cummins’ involvement in power generation projects at mine sites in Australia, with gas gensets in particular at the forefront of a number of ground-breaking projects as mining companies look to reduce their carbon footprint with hybrid systems.
One example is the 56 MW microgrid at Gold Fields’ remote Agnew gold mine in WA which highlights a hybrid renewable energy solution.
The acclaimed project, developed by global energy producer EDL, features 16 MW of Cummins QSV91 gas generator power along with a solar farm, wind turbines and battery storage.
Another EDL project is in the NSW Hunter Valley where nine 2MW QSV91 gas generators are operating on waste coal seam methane gas in providing power to Centennial Coal’s mine at Mandalong.
The newest gas generator developed by Cummins is the HSK78 which is starting to make its mark at a number of mine sites across Western Australia.
At several sites, the low-emissions unit is a key component of hybrid gas, solar and battery power systems. A completely new design from the skid up, the HSK78 incorporates innovative gas technology to achieve new levels of efficiency for natural gas generators.
The power density of up to 2.0 MW is derived from the compact 78-litre, V12 gas engine.
High volume pumping applications such as mine dewatering is another application where Cummins excels with its CustomPak line-up.
CustomPaks are self-contained diesel powerpacks designed and built in Australia for Australian conditions.
They span 49 to 1050 hp and have earned a reputation for robustness and ability to operate in intense heat.
All CustomPak cooling systems provide for continuous operation in ambient temperatures of plus 50 degrees Celsius.
Importantly, Cummins’ industry-leading sales, service and technical support in pit-to-port solutions are now enhanced with PrevenTech Mining, a remote engine monitoring system giving peace of mind and total cost of ownership savings.
The system provides complete engine health management, helping reduce downtime by prioritising and notifying when actions are required.
Alerts and recommendations are sent through email, phone and a web-based customer dashboard.