ABB, Boliden, Epiroc make first underground B-E truck trolley system

ABB is collaborating with equipment maker Epiroc and miner Boliden for a milestone project it says will help advance the mine of the future: the first fully battery-electric truck trolley system.

This is a leap ahead for mining electrification, the group said, contributing to significant reductions in carbon emissions and boosts for worker health and safety.

The underground hauling fleet electrification system design builds on Epiroc’s battery-electric Minetruck MT42 SG and ABB’s eMine Trolley System. It was tested via deployment on an 800-meter-long underground mine test track in Sweden with a 13% incline, Boliden’s Kristineberg operation in the country’s north.

“[This] 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,” the companies said. “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 IEA, making electrification a priority.” 

Each partner provided a unique set of expertise to this development process; in addition to Epiroc’s Minetruck MT42 SG and battery system, the trolley solution was equipped with ABB’s DC converter, HES880 inverters and AMXE motors to enhance power.

The truck features a trolley pantograph connected to an overhead catenary line, a concept that 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 also 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 all involved.

“The underground environment is a unique challenge,” the groups noted of the project. “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.”  

The companies said that, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, the electrification of mining also promises improved health and safety for workers.

“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 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.”  

“Together, in close partnership, 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.”  

Max Luedtke, global business line manager – Mining, ABB, called it “real progress” for mining.

“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.”  

The project was financially supported by Swedish innovation agency Vinnova and its initiative Sustainable Industry. It will contribute to Boliden’s vision to be the most climate friendly and respected metals provider in the world, the miner said. 

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 Minetruck MT42 SG trolley trucks from Epiroc.

The total distance will be 5 km (3.1 miles) at a depth of 750 meters (about 2,461 feet). Once achieved, not only will Rävliden have significantly less carbon emissions compared to a mine using conventional technology, it will also be part of setting a standard for new mines.  

Source: ABB

Related posts