Productivity benefits of electric vehicles for underground mines

7 November 2019 (Last Updated November 14th, 2019 05:11)

With mines under increasing pressure to optimise productivity and reduce operational costs, electric vehicles present a solution. 

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Productivity benefits of electric vehicles for underground mines
The technology is there for electric vehicles to offer more effective alternatives than diesels machines. Photo by Normet.

With mines under increasing pressure to optimise productivity and reduce operational costs, electric vehicles present a solution.

Upgrading to an electrical fleet will likely be gradual. Although there will be an initial high expenditure, the technology has been proven to quickly provide a return on investment. The operating expenses and service needs are less for electric drive than with traditional diesel fleet. As the vehicles have locally zero-emissions, they offer a substantial improvement in underground air quality as exhaust fumes are entirely removed.

Electric vehicles are not typically associated with heavy-duty functionality, yet the technology is now there for them to not just equal the productivity of diesels machines, but in many cases offer more effective alternatives.

Normet’s SmartDrive has been designed to cover an entire vehicle fleet, as the company wanted to make the technology usable throughout the complete range of mining and tunnelling processes that it is involved in.

“We want to offer our customers the whole solution,” explains Jukka Ristimaki, Normet product line director in new technologies. “The payback is easily achieved within two to three years depending on the application.”

The vehicles’ fully electric powertrain has been proven to offer superior levels of efficiency when compared to the more commonly used diesel powertrains. The system provides instant torque and power levels.

Charging capabilities of electric mining vehicles

One of the biggest reservations people have with electric vehicles is with charging. There is some concern about batteries running out or finding the time for the charging to take place.

However, Normet’s fast-charging unit eliminates the need for lengthy downtime in underground operations. Vehicles are fitted with an on-board charging unit that can be plugged into the mains of any industrial standard AC connection. Fast-charging equipment can be retrofitted in existing facilities.

“The best way is to look at the operations cycle and make charging part of that operations cycle.”

“The best way is to look at the operations cycle and make charging part of that operations cycle,” says Ristimaki.

Furthermore, Normet’s SmartDrive technology not only saves energy when heading down into a mine, but the regenerative braking system also enables the vehicle’s battery to be charged when driving downhill. There is significantly less wear on components, resulting in reduced maintenance requirements.

Productivity is further boosted by mining personnel being able to get to operations sites more quickly thanks to increased vehicle tramming speeds up steep hills.

Productivity benefits of electric mining vehicles

Normet’s SmartDrive technology is available for use in a number of vehicles, from mine cars to heavy-duty concrete transmixers.

For example, Normet’s Spraymec 8100 VC SD is a high-performance mobile unit for spraying concrete in tunnels with heights of 10.3m and maximum widths of 16m. Its upper reach of vertical spraying is 14m. It has a maximum liquid capacity of 40m3/h, while the standard pumping range is 3m3-30m3/h.

The vehicle has been designed with efficiency in mind. Its mechanical arm allows it to be operated by one worker instead of two. This means that the extra worker who would normally be needed can be deployed elsewhere within the facility, furthering productivity.

Another electric vehicle that complements the Spraymec and is effective when used in tandem is Normet’s Utimec MF 500 Transmixer for transporting concrete. The vehicle offers the optimum performance and productivity in its size class. It has a considerable capacity for transporting concrete and is able to achieve an impressive tramming speed even when full thanks to its significantly high output power. These are just two examples of the robust mining vehicles that Normet has developed in its comprehensive eco fleet.

To find out more, visit www.normet.com.

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