First Quantum aims for battery truck next year

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Hitachi Construction Machinery trolley-assisted diesel truck at Kansanshi in Zambia

Japan’s Hitachi Construction Machinery is aiming to supply its first battery-electric rigid dump truck to First Quantum Minerals by early next year under a newly signed letter of intent between the two companies.

The LOI has a broader gamut to “advance the development of sustainable mining solutions” at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper-gold mine in Zambia, however, the new truck was the sole focus of an announcement by the two companies.

First Quantum is running 41 HCM diesel trucks at Kansanshi, plus trolley-assist infrastructure on haul routes.

The miner and supplier aim to connect battery-electric trucks to the existing pantograph and overhead power-line set-up, starting by the end of HCM’s FY23, which runs to March 31 next year.

Developed with Swiss manufacturer ABB, HCM’s truck will use on-board energy storage and trolley systems to generate power. Via a pantograph, it will connect to overhead power lines, drawing power to allow the truck to run and using generated energy to charge the battery system. HCM said this was separate to the regenerated power from the retarder braking system which would generate a high level of charge during haul road descent.

ABB Traction’s head of e-mobility, Fabiana Cavalcante said: “ABB is delighted to continue its collaborative partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery through the supply of highly energy-efficient DC/DC converters, fitting state-of-the-art traction batteries forming together the most efficient package to electrify rigid dump trucks.”

First Quantum has more than 40 HCM EH3500AC trucks at its operations in Zambia and has ordered 40 bigger trucks and six EX5600-7E electric excavators for its Kansanshi S3 expansion to 200,000- 250,000 tonnes per annum of copper.

“Innovation in mining is integral to First Quantum’s philosophy and we’re excited about this technology partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery,” the company’s director of mining, John Gregory, said.

“Pit electrification is an area of focus for First Quantum as we seek productive, safe and profitable decarbonisation of our mining activities in order to deliver lower carbon intensity copper that will be essential for the global energy transition.

“First Quantum has spent more than ten years implementing trolley assist technology with Hitachi Construction Machinery at Kansanshi, an area in which we are now industry leading.

“We see this as a technological evolution towards future commercialisation of a practical equipment battery solution through the use of our advanced trolley infrastructure.

“Together with in-pit crushing and conveying and electric drilling, First Quantum saves an estimated 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year across our Zambian operations.”


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