ABB, EcoHoist focus on low-capex mine hoisting

Staff reporter

Top image :
Economical Energy managing director, Mathew Forrest

Australian start-up Economical Energy says it hopes a collaboration agreement with Swiss engineering giant ABB can help speed adoption and deployment of a pilot system based on its EcoHoist vertical material transport concept, which is scheduled for “subscale demonstration” at the end of this year.

Conventional mine hoist leader ABB will lend its technical capability and experience to the joint venture.

Adelaide-headquartered Economical Energy, recognised as South Australian Innovator of the Year in this year’s CORE Innovation Hub Hot 30 Awards, conceived EcoHoist while it was developing its Vertically Integrated Potential Energy Reservoir (VIPER) gravity energy storage system.

Founder and mechatronics engineer Matthew Forrest said ABB’s proven track record delivering electric drive, automation and safety systems to the resources industry provided “strong synergies with EcoHoist”.

He said the EcoHoist could improve on traditional vertical hoisting systems by “substantially reducing the size of the required mine shafts”, leading to lower capital cost and construction time compared to skip hoist systems.

“The EcoHoist operates on electricity and provides the opportunity for mines using conventional diesel-powered load and haul fleets to simultaneously cut production costs and decarbonise,” Economical Energy says.

“As mines go deeper underground, and as external pressures to decarbonise mining operations increase, the EcoHoist is a compelling solution.”

Economical Energy plans to commission a 50 tonnes-per-hour, 6m-tall demonstration of the EcoHoist bucket elevator by Q4 2024.

“This [ABB] collaboration aims to expedite EcoHoist’s delivery of a subscale demonstration of the technology, by leveraging ABB’s expertise in engineering and hoist safety systems,” it said.

Economical Energy said last October it had been selected to join oil major Shell’s Studio-X accelerator program and had also received funding from Studio-X venture capital partner, Texas-based ATP Fund.


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