Hitachi, First Quantum build zero-emission partnership

Hitachi Construction Machinery has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with First Quantum Minerals for the advancement of a zero-emission partnership and development of sustainable solutions at the latter’s Zambia operations.

A proof of concept is planned for implementation as part of the LOI, with Hitachi supplying the first of its full battery, rigid frame dump trucks fitted with an ABB battery, on-board charger and associated infrastructure by the end of the 2023 fiscal year ahead of technological feasibility trials at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper-gold mine operations, set for commissioning and first production in 2025.

“This partnership represents a significant milestone for both companies: Hitachi Construction Machinery accelerating the validation of its zero-emission mining product as part of its technology roadmap, and First Quantum progressing towards reducing its operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving its long-term sustainability goals by applying this battery-electric technology at one of its largest mine sites,” the pair said jointly.

Hitachi added that the Kansanshi mine is ideal for the trials because of its existing trolley assist systems, which align with development of battery dump trucks.

“First Quantum currently operates 41 Hitachi Construction Machinery (diesel) trolley trucks at Kansanshi, meaning much of the required infrastructure for the battery dump truck is already in place,” the OEM said.

The Hitachi/ABB-developed battery dump truck uses on-board energy storage and trolley systems to generate power. Via a pantograph, the battery dump truck connects to overhead power lines, drawing power to allow the truck to run, and it the generated energy is used to charge the battery system separate to regenerated power from the retarder braking system.

“ABB is delighted to continue its collaborative partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery through the supply of highly energy-efficient DC/DC converters, fitting state of the art traction batteries forming together the most efficient package to electrify rigid dump trucks,” said Fabiana Cavalcante, head of eMobility for ABB’s traction division.

“Together, we look forward to advancing our co-creation efforts to develop solutions that enable all-electric mine operations and support customers like First Quantum in the achievement of their sustainability ambitions.”

First Quantum’s fleet of Hitachi Construction Machinery equipment includes 39 EH3500ACII and two EH3500AC-3 rigid dump trucks across Zambia, as well as several construction-sized machinery across global operations. A further 40 EH4000AC-3 dump trucks equipped with the latest HCM/Bradken robust tray designs are on order for first delivery to Kansanshi in 2023, to support its S3 expansion project as it’s scaled up. Six new EX5600-7E (electric) excavators equipped with Bradken Eclipse buckets and incorporating loss tooth detection technology are also to be supplied, demonstrating the company’s long-term commitment to reducing GHG emissions across its operations.

Sonosuke Ishii, Senior Vice President and Executive Officer, President of Mining Business Unit for Hitachi Construction Machinery, noted: “Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum have a close and respectful working relationship – since their first equipment purchase in 2004 – and we are honored to cement this further through ongoing collaboration and support with the signing of this LOI. The battery dump truck represents the future, not only for the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group but for the mining industry as a whole, and we are pleased to establish this proving ground on an active mine site and work with First Quantum on advancing this zero-emission solution.

“It’s one of the many solutions in development that will allow Hitachi Construction Machinery to contribute toward realizing a safe and sustainable society by solving critical issues related to carbon emissions reduction and climate change.”

Kansanshi, a copper-gold mine located near Solwezi in the North Western Province, produces copper concentrate, anode and cathode. It has been in operation since 2005 with two open pits as well as a copper smelter. The S3 expansion was approved in May 2022.


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