A Holistic Approach to Evaluating Battery Electric Vehicles for Underground Mines

A Holistic Approach to Evaluating Battery Electric Vehicles for Underground Mines. Mine Operations


Nicholas Bonderoff; BESTECH

"The evaluation of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in underground mines involves a comprehensive business case analysis beyond just the capital and operating costs of the equipment itself. BEVs demonstrate benefits from an EHS perspective, reduced mine ventilation costs, lower energy operating costs, reduced overall GHG emissions (dependent on the source of electricity), elimination of DPM, lower equipment maintenance costs, and reduced cooling requirements in deep mines. When including batteries and supporting infrastructure, BEV capital costs are ≈80% greater than that of diesel equipment. The project economics are highly dependent on the cost of electricity and diesel fuel and these can vary widely depending on the location of the mining operation.

Battery charging and swapping methodologies must be evaluated as there are a variety of approaches that can be employed which vary by manufacturer and type of equipment. Careful consideration of the cycle times, charging methodologies, and location of the battery charging infrastructure is necessary.

Specific operating conditions must also be taken into consideration. For example, the time for blast gasses to clear will be increased by reducing ventilation flow, and the potential impact on production needs to be evaluated. Similarly, the electrical distribution system needs to be evaluated for peak loading conditions when BEVs are charging.

Criteria including maintainability, reliability, commercial availability, and performance need to be evaluated. BEVs have fewer components than diesel equipment and this correlates to lower overall maintenance costs, however, BEVs require maintenance personnel with specific skill sets in order to maintain the equipment. Battery lifecycle costs need to be considered as battery replacement incurs significant capital expense. Some manufacturers offer services to offset these capital costs through usage agreements. Recycling and disposal of batteries at the end of their lifecycles also need to be considered.

With the increased selection of BEV equipment that will be available in the next 2-4 years, 100% BEV adoption is also possible.  We recommend a holistic approach when evaluating BEVs for underground mines. This will ensure that everything is considered in order to evaluate the full impact of BEV implementation."
Keywords: CIMTL23