+27 71 448 3496
leon@whyafrica.co.za

Mining companies embrace electrification

Share Article
Mining companies are embracing electrification. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Mining companies embrace electrification  

In the last few years, the mining industry has followed the path of other sectors and embraced electrification.

By Pranav Jaswani  

The mining industry has always been perceived as a high-emitting and resource-heavy industry – one that contributes 2-3% of all global CO2 emissions. However, within the last few years, the industry has followed the path of other vehicle sectors and embraced electrification.

The use of EVs in global mining is on the rise and could be set to change attitudes towards the industry at large. The new IDTechEx report, “Electric Vehicles in Mining 2024-2044: Technologies, Players, and Forecasts”, finds that the electric mining vehicle market is on the cusp of rapid growth, with a 20-year CAGR of 38% forecasted.

Electric vehicles offer multiple benefits over traditional combustion engines, including emissions, economics, safety, and productivity. This article will explore these factors to demonstrate why mining companies and vehicle manufacturers have been so keen to embrace electrification.

ADVERTISEMENT

GHG Emissions

It is widely known that transitioning from ICE automobiles to EVs provides the benefit of zero CO2 emissions at the point of use. This benefit is even more pronounced when it comes to mining vehicles. Of all the emissions produced by the global mining industry, 40-50% is derived from the diesel combustion engines of vehicles.

The global haul truck population, numbering just over 55 000, emits 174 megatonnes of CO2 annually – the same as almost 38 million road cars. The introduction of electric haul trucks and other electric mining vehicles creates huge potential for the decarbonisation of mining and allows mining companies and OEMs to meet their individual emissions targets.

Miner Health and Safety

Diesel combustion engines significantly compromise local air quality, emitting NOx and particulate matter that are hazardous to worker safety. In an underground mine, miners and vehicles can spend entire working days in close proximity in a confined tunnel. Transitioning to EVs will minimise workers’ exposure to pollutants and deliver short- and long-term health benefits.

Working in mines also means working under exposure to high heat, noise, and vibration – all of which pose further safety risks and are made worse by diesel vehicles. Electric mining vehicles produce far less noise and vibration to contend with and generate over 75% less heat than their diesel counterparts. From a health and safety standpoint, EVs are far superior to incumbent mining machines.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mining Productivity

Due to the use of electric motors, electric mining vehicles can achieve improved torque and acceleration, higher average speeds, and better performance when traveling on grades (as much as 50% faster on steep grades). Loaders specifically benefit further from the improved torque through smoother loading and faster load times. All these factors come together to result in faster vehicle cycles, increasing mining productivity by 10-20%.

The Bottom Line

Most crucial to the adoption of electric mining vehicles is the significant reductions they offer in total cost of ownership. EVs will come at a considerable premium due to the added costs of batteries, but battery pricing in the mining industry has been coming down and given that volumes of electric mining equipment are expected to grow, there is room for it to fall even further.

The most potent savings that electrification provides comes from eliminating diesel costs. IDTechEx has calculated that the diesel costs to operate a haul truck and an underground vehicle can be over USD8.5-million and USD1.5- million, respectively, over 10 years.

For an EV alternative, the electricity costs needed are as low as USD3.1-million and USD350 000. EVs can create massive opportunities for mines to save millions per vehicle, and they will naturally be inclined to extend these benefits over their fleets at large. Vehicle economics are also less sensitive to electricity prices than diesel prices, affording companies a level of protection against price volatility.

Adding to this are the operational costs saved through reductions in maintenance. Replacing the mechanical driveline of mining vehicles with electric ones brings with it fewer moving parts and less maintenance. Vehicles demand less downtime and resources for repairs and can spend more time in operation.

The new IDTechEx report, “Electric Vehicles in Mining 2024-2044: Technologies, Players, and Forecasts”, provides deeper analyses and quantification of these key cost factors in electrification and analyses over 70 electric mining vehicles from OEMs, including Caterpillar, Komatsu, Sandvik, Epiroc, and XCMG.

It finds that electrification of mining vehicles will be favorable from a total cost of ownership perspective over a wide range of vehicle types. Mining companies will be encouraged to switch over by the savings they can provide and the improvements to working conditions – while OEMs will ramp up production to meet this demand.

Pranav Jaswani is a technology analyst at IDTechEx

To find out more about this new IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/EVMining.

For the full portfolio of electric vehicle research from IDTechEx, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research/EV.

Mining companies embrace electrification  

ADVERTISEMENT

WhyAfrica provides on the ground information and business intelligence about the sustainable utilisation and responsible extraction of natural resources in Africa, and can assist your company through:  

  1. Membership:
  • WhyAfrica’s membership offers great business insights to you, your company, and clients.
  • Amongst many other benefits, we will publish editorial content about you or your company on the WhyAfrica online platform and on all WhyAfrica’s social media pages – the annual fee is R6,500 and you can find out more or subscribe here: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/product/membership/ 
  1. Sponsorship:
  • WhyAfrica’s Road Trip takes place annually in July and August. During our Road Trip we aim to visit more than 30 project sites. Sponsoring the Road Trip, or to be a WhyAfrica member, gives you unparalleled insight into the business environment of the countries that we travel to and the project sites we visit.
  • To be a member or sponsor allows you access to invaluable, on the ground, business intelligence and a great marketing opportunity for all companies doing business in Africa.
  • The main aim of our Road Trips is to promote Africa as an investment destination and to showcase Africa’s greatest companies, and projects to our large global audience, which includes a list of potential investors, venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs.
  • To view the photos of this year’s Southern Africa Road Trip click on the gallery link or follow our Instagram account at why.africa https://www.whyafrica.co.za/road-trips/whyafrica-road-trips/. 
  1. Advertising:
  • We publish daily online articles on our WhyAfrica platform and post them on social media every day. Our combined online reach is more than 45,000. In-article banner ads are highly successful advertising tools as is advertising space on our website.
  • In addition to our bi-weekly newsletters, we publish two printed- and two interactive digital magazines per year. The printed magazines are distributed at major events and conferences throughout the year, and also on our WhyAfrica Road trips.
  • Digital magazines are e-mailed to all our subscribers and shared on our social media platforms. A copy of the latest edition is automatically attached to all our outgoing e-mails.
  • WhyAfrica magazines provide great marketing opportunities. There are also in-article and on-line advertising opportunities at exceptional rates. Contact me for more information on leon@whyafrica.co.za or give me a call.
  • To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletters and magazines click on the link and register: https://www.whyafrica.co.za/subscribe/  
  1. 4. Partnerships
  • Maximise your African exposure and link with our large business network through becoming one of only 10 WhyAfrica partners. We have only five prime partnership positions left for 2023, so contact me at leon@whyafrica.co.za to get the best deal.

Mining companies embrace electrification  

 

 

Share Article

Sectors

AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management