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Posted March 10th, 2023


As the worldwide push toward net zero emissions continues to grow, the mining industry is feeling the pressure to keep up. While some mines have adopted electric power with relative ease, others have expressed concern over the cost of the endeavor; not only would a site need to purchase new equipment, but they would also need to implement a way to power said equipment. Despite the initial investment in new equipment and infrastructure, government incentives and the long-term monetary advantages of electric vehicles are helping facilitate the transition toward full mine electrification.

Lower Operational and Maintenance Costs

If you’ve spent any meaninful time under the hood of a diesel vehicle, particularly those who conform to Tier 4 emission standards, you know that a lot of moving parts are required to keep the vehicle in operation. With so many moving parts, diagnosing a diesel-powered mining vehicle can become incredibly time-consuming. By comparison, the low number of moving parts and modular design of electric mining vehicles can reduce the time and cost of equipment maintenance by approximately 30%.

Even during regular operation, mine stakeholders must also come to terms with the rising cost of fuel needed to power diesel vehicles. Market experts anticipate a 33% increase in global fuel cost in the next three years. In response, numerous mines have made the push to full electrification, saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel costs in the process. While some sites have simply expanded upon their existing electrical infrastructure, others have developed entirely new power distribution systems. To offset some of the costs of implementing electric power, sites such as BHP’s Leinster and Mt. Keith nickel mines have turned to renewable sources of energy, building a 70,000-solar panel array to replace their fuel-powered generators.

Fewer On-Site Ventilation Requirements

In addition to the costs accrued by simply operating and maintaining a diesel fleet, a mine must also work to offset that fleet’s emissions. Diesel equipment can generate a tremendous amount of heat during and exhaust particulate during operation. To ensure a safe working environment, a mine must disperse this heat and air pollution with underground ventilation systems. Although the function of these systems is simple, the energy required to operate and maintain them can be staggering. One Canadian study found that ventilation requirements accounted for nearly 50% of energy consumed during operation and before milling.

Battery electric vehicles produce zero operating emissions and considerably less heat than their diesel counterparts. These attributes greatly reduce the ventilation needed to maintain a suitable working environment. In fact, by switching from a diesel-powered to a battery electric mobile fleet, a mine can expect to see as much as a 50% reduction in ventilation requirements. That equates to big savings in terms of the energy consumed during operation and in terms of the resources required to build ventilation infrastructure in new and expanding mines.

ABC Ventilation

Photo courtesy of ABC Ventilation

With over 120 countries committing to achieve net zero emissions within the next thirty years, the push towards mine electrification is undeniable. While the costs of implementing electric power underground are substantial, government incentives, lower operating and maintenance costs, and reduced ventilation requirements are helping mine stakeholders to see the long-term benefits of battery electric equipment fleets.