Electric Vehicles Go Underground…Way Underground
Electric vehicles are going underground…to mine.
Erik Svedlund, product manager for underground electric loaders and trucks at Atlas Copco URE, recently spoke to AZoMining on the benefits of going electric in the underground world of mining.
Here we pull out a few of Svedlund’s more on-point answers to some of AZoMining’s questions:
AZoMining: Could you provide a brief overview of the new green line from Atlas Copco?
Svedlund: The green line consists of a range of electric loaders and electric trucks. The main commonality between them is that they all use electricity as main power source, and they give a hundred percent carbon dioxide free production. We are offering four electric loaders and two electric trucks as part of the new range.
AZoMining: So just to clarify, are the new vehicles within the green line fully electric or hybrids?
Svedlung: The loaders are hundred percent electric and they’re powered by cable directly off the grid. The working area of mining loaders is usually quite confined, so it can run of a cable. That’s one of the really unique things with our new electric loaders, because we have a totally new cable control system.
Svedlund adds that Atlas Copco URE has come up with some creative solutions to typical mining problems. As Svedlund says, the electric loader is difficult to move around under its own electric power within a mine. He notes that the cable that powers a loader can be damaged as the vehicle moves about. The solution, says Svedlund, is a tow-behind diesel generator that powers the loader while it moves from location to location within the mine. Once stationary, the loader hooks back up to cable power.
The electric trucks that Svedlund talks about are actually hybrids. Typically, they operate connected to a power source (aka the trolly line), but when need be, these trucks can call upon their on-board diesel engine to move to areas not accessible by trolley line.
Svedlund further says that, as mining continues to go deeper and deeper, electric becomes the only option. He says ventilation at extreme depths is incredibly difficult and expensive. Electrics cut down on the need for ventilation.
Lastly, Svedlund points out that the real advantage to electrics in mining is power. He says that electrics are unmatched in operation and that alone is why mining operations are quickly making the change from diesel to electric.