A uniquely hybrid first step to greener mine haulage

Clean energy’s upstream supply chain is having a moment, but…

Clean energy’s upstream supply chain is having a moment, but not for the reasons you might think. Last month, The Economist confirmed that while mining companies have always mattered, an unprecedented 6.5 billion t of minerals are needed to decarbonise the world by 2050. Even if mining companies immediately invest to meet this dramatic increase in demand, surpassing current capacity by digging deeper and faster than ever before, such efforts – without innovation – will come at a cost that extends well beyond mining’s fiscal bottom-line.

A uniquely hybrid first step to greener mine haulage

Many sectors including mining contribute to heavy industry’s important role in sourcing, moving, and transforming the minerals required for the world’s clean energy transition. And yet, heavy industry is not only currently responsible for a quarter of carbon emissions, but as clean energy’s mineral requirements expand, it is also projected to become the world’s largest source of planet warming pollution. This often-overlooked inconvenient truth is why clean energy will not be carbon neutral until its upstream industrial supply chain is also decarbonised.

In response, most tier 1 and 2 mining companies have pledged an 85 – 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Proven and early-stage innovations in mining equipment electrification hold promise for helping the sector achieve this goal. Some of these solutions may even extend certain equipment’s operational life, contributing to an attractive net present value. But, will the historically slow-to-innovate mining sector take meaningful steps to begin and advance haul fleet decarbonisation? Furthermore, is it the exclusive role of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provide measured pathways for doing so?

In mining, a typical heavy haul truck burns about 1 million litres of diesel fuel per year and remains in continuous operation for 10 – 25 years. Across First Mode’s customer market, there are 13 000 of these trucks in global operation releasing over 35 million t of carbon dioxide annually. Although next-generation drivetrains are key to reducing these emissions, the early replacement of a diesel-powered truck in current operation is viewed as fiscally impractical because the original price paid for it can be up to US$5 million.

The First Mode hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) retrofit offers a more strategic and lower risk approach. Instead of replacing the engine, HEV leverages the truck’s existing assets to upgrade it – using regenerative braking to deliver immediate fuel savings and reduce emissions by up to 25% without need for new infrastructure. The HEV’s uniquely flexible, interoperable design also readies the truck for the final step on its path to zero emissions by ‘feeding forward’ into either First Mode’s full battery or next-generation hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle drivetrains.

Nothing like First Mode’s HEV exists in the market today because it equips mining companies with a sequenced approach to decarbonisation, as they and the broader supply chain prepare for the zero-emissions solutions of tomorrow. Since such solutions can vary in their upfront systems requirements, HEV is unique in helping mining companies deliver impact now as they bridge to what’s next at a pace that works for them, on a timeline they control.

Importantly, it also enables them to seize the moment and lead heavy industry into the clean energy future.

This article was authored by Tyler Andrews, Director of Business Development for North America at First Mode. First Mode is a pioneering developer and manufacturer of decarbonisation products for heavy industry partners dedicated to the clean energy future, starting with mine and rail haulage.
Contact Tyler at tyler.andrews@firstmode.com to learn more.

Image: Photo of the 2023 proof-of-concept HEV in a controlled test area at the First Mode Proving Grounds in Centralia (USA). Do not attempt.

Read the article online at: https://www.globalminingreview.com/mining/11032024/a-uniquely-hybrid-first-step-to-greener-mine-haulage/

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