Boliden, Epiroc and ABB to further decarbonise mining industry

Boliden, Epiroc and ABB make first battery-electric truck trolley system for underground mining a reality.

Boliden, Epiroc and ABB have passed a new technology milestone by successfully deploying the first fully battery-electric truck trolley system on an 800-meter-long underground mine test track in Sweden, with a 13 percent incline. This means the mining industry is a step closer to realizing the all-electric mine of the future, with sustainable, productive operations and improved working conditions.

The achievement of the collaboration in Boliden’s Kristineberg mine in northern Sweden marks a critical moment for the mining industry as it continues to face rising pressures to balance increased outputs of critical minerals and metals with lower carbon emissions and energy usage. Demand for minerals critical to society’s clean-energy transformation is predicted to increase between 1.5 to seven times by 2030 according to the IEA1, making electrification a priority.

In tandem with reducing carbon emissions, the electrification of mining also promises improved health and safety for the industry’s workforce. By deploying this system, the collaboration partners aim to prove that the underground working environment can be significantly improved, with less emissions, noise and vibration while reducing the total cost per ton.

“Over the past three years, we have worked in close collaboration with the ABB and Epiroc teams to bring the electric mine of the future one step closer,” said Peter Bergman, General Manager Boliden Area, Boliden. “The most important thing for us is of course that the technology works in our own operations, but we also see added value that we together with our partners can drive technology development so that the system can be used in other mines. We are proud to have taken this concept to a live installment.”

Each partner has provided a unique set of expertise to this development process, clearly demonstrating the value of industry collaboration. Epiroc has added dynamic charging to its proven battery-electric Minetruck MT42 SG and battery system, and the trolley solution is equipped with ABB’s DC converter, HES880 inverters and AMXE motors to enhance the power. The truck features a trolley pantograph connected to an overhead catenary line, a concept which is highly suitable for long haul ramps. The electric trolley line gives additional assistance to the battery-electric mine truck on the most demanding stretches up-ramp while fully loaded, enabling further reach and battery regeneration during drift, which increases productivity drastically for a mining operation.

ABB created the infrastructure from grid to wheel, including the electric truck trolley system design and the rectifier substation for the test track. The definition of standards and vehicle interface was jointly developed by the project partners.

The underground environment is a unique challenge. To design a solution that could adapt to voltage fluctuations along the system, ABB collaborated with its partners to build a digital twin to simulate all scenarios. The result is a dynamic trolley system, with intelligent switchgear, measurements and transparency with the inbuilt ability to adjust power where it is needed at any given moment.

“Together, in close partnerships we can accelerate the transformation and reach a steep curve in mining technology innovation like we have done in Kristineberg,” said Wayne Symes, President Epiroc Underground division. “In a short space of time, we have implemented and delivered technology to not only reduce CO₂ emissions, but substantially extend travel distance for battery-electric driven vehicles on heavy ramp haulage, reduce operating costs, and improve the health and safety of mining environments.”

“We are passionate and committed to creating real progress for the mining industry,” said Max Luedtke, Global Business Line Manager Mining, ABB. “Seeing the industry’s first battery electric truck trolley system live is not only the result of a collaborative achievement with Boliden and Epiroc, but it is truly an industry milestone. We launched the ABB eMine™ concept of methods and solutions to bring electrification to the whole mining operation, from the grid to the wheel, and the installation at Kristineberg demonstrates the power of these capabilities.”

This project is supported by funding from the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova and their initiative ‘Sustainable Industry’ and will contribute to Boliden’s vision to be the most climate friendly and respected metals provider in the world.

Boliden intends to implement a full scale, autonomous electric-trolley system in the Rävliden mine, a satellite orebody and extension of the Kristineberg mine, and has placed an order for four (4) Minetruck MT42 SG Trolley trucks from Epiroc. The total distance will be 5 km at a depth of 750 meters. Once achieved, not only will Rävliden have significant less carbon emissions compared to a mine using conventional technology, it will also be part of setting a standard for new mines.

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Green Steel World Editorial Team

Green Steel World Editorial Team

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