Electric Vehicles in the Mining Industry

by | 12 Jun, 2019

With the threat of global warming looming over as well as rising oil prices, more and more car companies are beginning to develop their own take on electric transport. It is predicted that by 2030, 58% of the light vehicles on the road in the United States will be electric [1], which will be brought on by the ever-decreasing cost of battery and inverter technology. In fact, Electric mobility is almost at a tipping point and is already quite affordable especially when personal vehicle ownership costs are considered (Fuel, maintenance etc).

The decision for businesses to switch to an electric vehicle fleet is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the transportation industry where the price of oil dictates their bottom line. Just like the transportation industry, the Mining industry heavily relies on the use of fossil fuels for the day-to-day operations. Switching to a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) fleet would increase their profit margin substantially, due to the reduced cost of “refuelling” an electric vehicle and the minimal maintenance required by each vehicle as usually each underground vehicle is serviced/inspected once a week.

Apart from the running costs, there are cost savings due to the much-reduced heat output from each vehicle, which in turn would require the Mining operation to spend less on underground ventilation each year. Importantly, as well as the comparatively low heat output, electric vehicles have zero emissions and therefore no CO2 or diesel particulate matter is emitted into the underground working environment which is extremely detrimental to employee long term health. In fact, diesel emissions are now classified as “Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans” by the world health organisation[2] and according to the Cancer Council of Australia “diesel engine exhaust is the second most common cancer causing agent (carcinogen) workers are exposed to, behind ultraviolet radiation exposure. It is estimated that 1.2 million Australian workers were exposed in 2011.”[3]. Man-hours would also be regained from the often lack of vehicles due to maintenance and breakdowns associated with transmission abuse or engine failure, this will give a significant boost to productivity.

With these factors in mind, Safescape embarked on a project to develop the Bortana EV. The Bortana EV is the new Electric Vehicle designed specifically for the mining industry. Using the corrosion resistant chassis of the Agrale Marruá and world-class battery technology from 3ME Technology, Safescape have developed a mine-ready underground electric vehicle with innovative safety and connectivity features.

The batteries and some other BEV specific components are made in Australia by 3ME Technology. The smart lithium-ion batteries have been purpose designed for mining, are maintenance-free, able to support rapid charging and achieve impressive energy density.

At Safescape, we are very excited to be working to deliver what we believe to be a gateway drug to wider scale adoption of EV technology in underground mining, improving conditions for our miners.

Author – John Hodder, Safescape Fleet Development Officer

Enquiries – [email protected]

[1] TS Stephens, AK Birky, J Ward (30/3/2014). Vehicle Technologies Program Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Report for Fiscal Year (2015). Available: www.anl.gov

[2] World health organisation (2013). Diesel and Gasoline engine exhaust and some nitroarenes: IARC monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risk to humans. Available: https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/IARC_mono105.pdf

[3] Cancer Council (26/3/2019). Diesel engine exhaust and cancer. Available: https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/workplace-cancer/diesel.html

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