Australian Mining Corporations Selected Battery-Electrical Over Hydrogen Gasoline Cell Mining Vans

Mining firms like BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue don’t care a fig about zero-to-sixty occasions, large touchscreens, or vegan leather-based interiors. Their concern — their solely concern — is for the underside line. Because the inexperienced revolution strikes ahead, they’re in search of methods to decrease the carbon emissions related to their mining actions, and meaning transferring away from diesel engines. What are the alternate options for large mining vans that may weigh tons of of tons? There are two — batteries or hydrogen gas cells.

Each present the electrical energy wanted to show electrical motors, so which is healthier? The businesses have completed their analysis, gathered the info, and created the spreadsheets. For them, the reply is evident. Battery-powered mining vans are the way in which to go. Why? Effectivity. BHP has now joined Rio Tinto and Fortescue in preferring electrical mining vans over hydrogen gas cell vans as a result of they’re extra environment friendly. Not a bit of bit extra environment friendly, a lot extra environment friendly.

“Every year, our Australian operations use roughly 1,500 [million] liters of diesel in over 1,000 items of apparatus. Over half of that is utilized in our truck fleets. Electrification is the popular pathway to remove this diesel,” stated Anna Wiley, BHP’s vp for Australian planning and technical capabilities.

“Utilizing hydrogen for example, we see the best losses at [the fuel-to-tank stage] attributable to era, storage and transportation in comparison with minimal losses in electrical energy era and transmission. As soon as on board, the gas must be transferred to power. In each at present’s diesel-electric expertise, and in a hydrogen system, the gas is used to generate electrical energy to drive the electrical wheel motors which has further losses in comparison with direct feed,” she informed Hydrogen Perception just lately.

Electrical vans show an general effectivity of round 80%, whereas hydrogen and diesel vans present solely about 30% and 20% effectivity, respectively. These figures think about the entire fuel-to-wheel power effectivity losses, making the electricity-to-battery-to-electricity course of extra environment friendly than the electricity-to-hydrogen-to-electricity cycle, in keeping with Vitality Improvements.

Value financial savings for electrical mining vans are additionally greater than initially estimated. Comparisons centered on the hydrogen gas that’s already created, ignoring the losses concerned in hydrogen manufacturing. Vitality professional Saul Griffith factors out that even with an ideal machine, solely a bit of over 70% of the power generated from photo voltaic cells could be transformed into hydrogen. Because of this virtually 80% of the unique renewable power generated for the hydrogen system can be misplaced by the point the truck’s wheels have been transferring. In distinction, electrical vans require much less wind and photo voltaic power to cowl the identical distance and provide extra value financial savings.

Battery-Electrical Mining Vans

The choice for electrical autos by BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue doesn’t imply the EV revolution in heavy tools is full, nonetheless. For one factor, the provision of battery-powered ultra-heavy vans is a matter. Producers are within the early levels of getting such autos into manufacturing.

Issues are transferring ahead within the heavy truck business, nonetheless. As CleanTechnica reported earlier this 12 months, Nouveau Monde Graphite and Caterpillar have signed definitive agreements to offer a zero emission fleet of electrical mining vans to help operations at NMG’s Matawinie Mine. Volvo can be offering battery-electric mining tools to Boliden, a Swedish mining firm for its fleet of underground mining tools.

As well as, the businesses might want to develop their electrical car infrastructure to help a rise in the usage of battery-powered equipment. BHP has already contracted for 1.2 GW of renewable power, however may have as much as 4 occasions that quantity to fulfill its future electrical wants because it provides battery-electric tools.

“There can be some downsides to offset this comparable effectivity benefit from electrification, corresponding to how we resolve long run storage and constraints to mining operations attributable to energy infrastructure,” Wiley stated. “Nonetheless, our view is that an electrified mining fleet is extra financial and extra achievable than the choice gas sources.”

Hydrogen Has A Function In Mining

BHP is growing what might grow to be the world’s largest potash mine in Saskatchewan, Canada, and plans for 80% of the underground mining autos at that facility to be battery-electric. Nonetheless, it’s analyzing the potential for utilizing hydrogen to interchange fossil gasoline within the processing of the uncooked supplies it extracts. Since fossil gasoline would account for 40% of the carbon emissions from the Jansen facility, substituting hydrogen would lower general emissions significantly.

The choice by Australia’s three largest mining firms to concentrate on battery-electric mining vans is in keeping with the current expertise in The Netherlands, the place a current subsidy spherical obtained no purposes for hydrogen vans. The Dutch authorities’s ongoing funding in hydrogen refueling stations has been questioned by environmental teams, which argue that electrical vans are extra power environment friendly and will grow to be the norm by 2035. Unbiased analysis helps this conclusion, and means that electrical vans will likely be cheaper than both diesel or hydrogen alternate options. As of February 2023, there have been 27 hydrogen vans and over 400 electrical vans within the Netherlands, Vitality Improvements stories.

Australia & Hydrogen

The nascent inexperienced hydrogen business in Australia had hopes that the massive mining firms can be a buyer for his or her merchandise, however the choice by BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue is a blow to these plans. In truth, the hype about hydrogen in Australia is starting to fade. In accordance with my colleague, Michael Barnard, Fortescue was one of many prime proponents of mining tools powered by hydrogen gas cells till it ran the numbers and noticed that hydrogen simply doesn’t pencil out, regardless of how passionate its advocates could also be, even when considered one of them is Andrew Forrest, the pinnacle of Fortescue Mining Group.

Michael Barnard says the tipping level got here on the Vitality and Mines Australia Summit in Perth on June 14, the place Christiaan Heyning, the pinnacle of decarbonization for Fortescue Mining Group, stated the corporate was selecting electrical quite than gas cell vans as a result of utilizing hydrogen would require 3 times the quantity of electrical energy. He was joined by John Mulcahy, principal adviser on floor mining and expertise at Rio Tinto, Australia’s largest iron ore mining firm.  “The hydrogen cycle is about one third as environment friendly, so our preliminary view is let’s drive it with batteries due to the upper effectivity, the lesser impression on infrastructure and distribution programs,” he informed the convention.

Effectivity is the watchword for the inexperienced economic system. The effectivity of inner combustion engines is terrible. Because the world continues to warmth up, can we afford to waste practically three-quarters of the power contained in a gallon of gasoline or diesel gas? Can we afford to make use of hydrogen autos which are 30% environment friendly when electrical autos are 80% environment friendly? Being environmentally acutely aware means not being profligate with the power we do use. On the planet of automobiles and vans — any automobiles and vans — battery-electric is just the neatest and most cost-effective strategy to go.


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