Nova electric vehicle trial a success for Barminco

Barminco and IGO have successfully trialled a Normet electric vehicle at the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine in Western Australia, as part of the Electric Mine Consortium’s effort to decarbonise mines and boost safety.

The trial used Normet’s Charmec MC 605 VE SD for underground operations as part of IGO and Barminco’s commitment to the Electric Mine Consortium.

The Electric Mine Consortium was founded by State of Play in its 2020 electrification report, with health and safety listed as some of the main reasons industries should consider going electric.

The 2020 electrification report was funded by METS Ignited and outlined the importance of making the switch to electrification on mine sites. 

“Strict vehicle emissions regulations, specifically targeting diesel particulate matter in underground mines, has the capacity to drive significant change in mining operations,” the report stated.

“As health and safety continues to be a significant topic in mining, the management of exposure to carcinogens is something government should be considering and enforcing.”

State of Play found that 61 per cent of next generation mines will be completely electric and 89 per cent of mines will switch to electric in the next 20 years. 

Normet’s SmartDrive technology features fast charging capability for its high-torque electric motors.

According to Barminco, which provides mining services at Nova, the three-month trial has delivered positive feedback.

“Feedback on this new technology has been positive, with operators and maintenance all agreeing that the driving is comfortable, smooth, and controlled, allowing tramming speeds to remain consistent up and down the declines,” Barminco stated.

The trial aimed to demonstrate how underground equipment can be faster and does not require diesel power.

“This battery electric driven system proved to handle Australian mining conditions, contrasting operating styles, varying tramming lengths, diverse changes to incline and decline and temperatures,” Barminco stated.

The vehicle was charged on day and night shifts to give Normet technicians the ability to monitor the vehicles in a real mining environment.

“Barminco and IGO are both a part of the Electric Mine Consortium and this is one of many trials we are undertaking to advance electrification and sustainability underground, and are excited to be utilising new technologies across our sites,” Barminco stated.

The Nova operation produced 30,436 tonnes of nickel, 13,722 tonnes of copper and 1142 tonnes of cobalt in the 2020 financial year.

Its guidance for the 2021 financial year is 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes of nickel, 11,000 to 12,500 tonnes of copper and 850 to 950 tonnes of cobalt.

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