Reducing the environmental impact of the mining industry has become the main challenge for the next decades. While the narrow vein mining method reduces the waste with smaller galleries, electrifying the mine is the next step toward more sustainable mining. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) offer several advantages that place them as the best alternative to traditional diesel-powered mining machines. The following article gives an overview of the advantage of battery power sources for underground mining equipment.
Aramine, pioneer in the battery-powered mining loader
Offering sustainable solutions has always been part of Aramine’s DNA. After developing the remanufacturing of underground mining equipment to reduce waste, Aramine searched for an alternative to diesel-powered for the new equipment line. Aramine’s first electric-powered machine was launched in 2005 with a cable reel and an innovative automatic reeling. It was a great first step and quickly increased the machine sales, but the cable was reducing the flexibility of a rubber-mounted machine. In 2016, the company launched the first battery-powered underground mining loader: the L140B. Coming with a removable battery module, the innovative battery Quick Replacement System (QRS) is a real revolution in electric-powered mining machines. In constant development, the capacity of the battery has increased from 24kWh to 42kWh, offering a longer autonomy with the same performance. The fleet of miniLoader® L140B is today scattered around the world. In 2023, Aramine will launch the biggest battery-powered underground mining loader of its range, the L440B (4.2-ton bucket capacity).
No gas emission, less ventilation in the galleries
The main advantage of battery-powered equipment in the mining industry is their environmental friendliness. Electric vehicles do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions, which means they do not generate air pollution in the galleries. This is particularly important in the underground mining industry, where air quality can be poor and high ventilation is required. By changing to BEVs, mining operations can significantly reduce their environmental impact and improve the health and well-being of miners. Fewer gas emission also means less ventilation needed in the galleries.
Another advantage of battery-electric mining machines is their low maintenance costs. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than combustion engines, which means less maintenance. Moreover, BEVs parts are usually more reliable than diesel-powered parts. This can significantly reduce the cost for mining companies. As experts in battery-powered mining equipment, Aramine offers a technical service with a team of experienced technicians.
Better working conditions for mining workers
Electric motors are smoother and quieter than internal combustion engines, which means that they produce less noise and vibration. This can lead to a safer working environment for mining workers, as it reduces the risk of MSD (Musculoskeletal disorders). Another main benefit of battery-powered mining machines is heat reduction. In fact, this type of power produces 6 times less heat than a thermal one (with the same performance). While the working conditions underneath the surface are very demanding, switching to battery-powered machines is necessary to improve them.
Electric with cable vs battery
When talking about electric mining machines, two options exist: cable (as Aramine miniLoaders® L110E and L150E) or battery. The second option comes with greater benefits. In fact, a battery-powered machine offers better mobility and flexibility as it is used independently of a fixed power source. It can be used in remote or inaccessible locations where electrical infrastructure may not be available. Even if the cable powers the machine to continue, it is limited by the length of the cable, which requires a close power source or the installation of additional cables for extended reach. With its Quick Replacement System (QRS), the L140B’s battery module is changed in less than 5 min in a very easy way. Therefore, the machine never stops mining.
The underground mining industry is essential to extract ores and provides raw materials necessary for technological advances. Reducing the environmental impact of the mining activity has become the main challenge for mining companies. Several options are explored such as changing the extraction method to narrow vein mining, automating processes, and switching to electric mining machines. A battery-powered mining equipment has several advantages over a diesel engine: no gas emission which means less ventilation, better working conditions for the miners, and low maintenance cost.