Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd recently announced that they have partnered to advance the development of sustainable mining solutions at First Quantum’s flagship mining operations in Zambia.
In accordance with a Letter of Intent (LOI), Hitachi Construction Machinery will deliver the first of its rigid-frame, full-battery dump trucks by the end of FY2023 for technological feasibility tests at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper-gold mine operations, including the S3 expansion, which is slated for commissioning and first production in 2025. The battery dump trucks are equipped with an ABB battery, on-board charger, and supporting equipment.
“Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum have a close and respectful working relationship – since their first equipment purchase in 2004 – and we are honored to cement this further through ongoing collaboration and support with the signing of this LOI,” says Sonosuke Ishii, Senior Vice President and Executive Officer, President of Mining Business Unit for Hitachi Construction Machinery.
This partnership represents a significant milestone for both companies. Hitachi Construction Machinery will be accelerating the validation of its zero-emission mining product as part of its technology roadmap while First Quantum will be progressing towards reducing its operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving its long-term sustainability goals by applying this battery-electric technology at one of its largest mine sites.
“Together with in-pit crushing and conveying and electric drilling, First Quantum saves an estimated 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year across our Zambian operations, while delivering improved productivity, cost savings and health and safety benefits,” says John Gregory, Director of Mining for First Quantum Minerals.
Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum have a long-standing relationship that will be further strengthened through this LOI and Proof of Concept (POC). The Kansanshi mine is ideally suited to these trials due to its existing trolley assist systems, which align with development of battery dump trucks. First Quantum currently operates 41 Hitachi Construction Machinery (diesel) trolley trucks at Kansanshi, meaning much of the required infrastructure for the battery dump truck is already in place.
“The battery dump truck represents the future, not only for the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group but for the mining industry as a whole, and we are pleased to establish this proving ground on an active mine site and work with First Quantum on advancing this zero-emission solution,” explains Ishii.
Collaboration with ABB
Hitachi Construction Machinery’s battery dump truck, developed in partnership with ABB, generates power using on-board energy storage and trolley systems. Via a pantograph, the battery dump truck connects to overhead power lines, drawing power to allow the truck to run. At the same time, the generated energy is used to charge the battery system. This is separate to the regenerated power from the retarder braking system which will generate a high level of charge during haul road descent.
“ABB is delighted to continue its collaborative partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery through the supply of highly energy-efficient DC/DC converters, fitting state of the art traction batteries forming together the most efficient package to electrify rigid dump trucks,” says Fabiana Cavalcante, Head of eMobility for ABB’s Traction Division. “Together, we look forward to advancing our co-creation efforts to develop solutions that enable all-electric mine operations and support customers like First Quantum in the achievement of their sustainability ambitions.”
By transferring a proven technology from its present trolley truck system to the battery dump truck, Hitachi Construction Machinery has been able to accelerate the development of its product to market. The retrofittable system design is also an added advantage, allowing current diesel truck fleets to be converted in the future to utilize the battery system, offering scalable fleet capability, minimal operational impact, and greater value for customers such as First Quantum.
First Quantum’s fleet of Hitachi Construction Machinery equipment includes 39 EH3500ACII and two EH3500AC-3 rigid dump trucks across its mining operations in Zambia, as well as several construction-sized machineries across global operations. A further 40 EH4000AC-3 dump trucks equipped with the latest HCM/Bradken robust tray designs are on order for first delivery to Kansanshi in 2023, to support its S3 expansion project as it’s scaled up. Six new EX5600-7E (electric) excavators equipped with Bradken Eclipse buckets and incorporating loss tooth detection technology are also to be supplied, demonstrating the company’s long-term commitment to reducing GHG emissions across its operations.
Continued collaboration through this battery dump truck trial is expected to directly contribute to ongoing optimization of technology, infrastructure, safety and onsite deployment strategies and processes for mining sector benefit as we approach a future of energy transition and increased demand for low-carbon equipment.
Beyond the mine site, the partnership is expected to facilitate significant investment in Zambia to deliver social and economic benefits. An in-country engine repair facility is planned for establishment, supported by both companies, which will provide an increase in employment and skills development opportunities within the local community.