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Diesel-Less Mining - a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

The mining industry consumes billions of liters of diesel and heavy fuel annually. Fuel and power are two of the biggest input costs and for remote mines, unreliable power grids and long distances from major ports or fuel refineries can be a logistical nightmare.

As the costs of renewable are already competitive with coal fired power stations,we need to ask how mining, as a sustainable industry and as the commodity supplier to the growing electric vehicle industry can make a difference in reducing emissions and carbon dioxide production?

A #dieselless mine is possible and closely linked to autonomous mining. The technology is commercial and available from suppliers like #Caterpillar and #Komatsu who build #electricdrive trackless mining vehicles and heavy earthmoving equipment to #Ballard #fuelcells , #sunfire reversable #electrolysers, #vanadiumredox batteries and other energy storage options like power to gas (hydrogen) and compressed air storage, as well as large scale solar and wind generation

It's a relatively small step change from an electric drive haul truck powered by a diesel prime mover to fuel cells stacks or to batteries charged by overhead catenary on the the haul roads from the plant to bottom of the pit.

Reversable renewable powered electrolysers can produce hydrogen for use in fuel cell powered plant and equipment and to produce electricity at night.

Diesel-Less Mining can provide mining companies with a viable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels across the globe.

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  • And what about making bio diesel at remote mining sites, of course assuming site conditions are such that this is possible and economic? Could be as simple as growing crops that produce plant oil, which can be converted simply into biodiesel via the transesterification route. Or the (remote) mine site could go for more advanced options to produce diesel fuel from solid biomass 'on site' (via pyrolysis and hydrotreating, the technology is there!). In both cases the costs of getting diesel to site should be high, but in some cases fuel is even flown in to remote sites (or overland transport and storage is so expensive that you need to pay triple or more for a gallon of diesel). When hydro, solar or wind power is abundantly available - why not go 'power to gas'?

    If one is able to do this, it means that the existing and proven technology of efficient and flexible diesel trucks and equipment, can still be used. And local farming can benefit from the mining activities, leaving more value in the local economy and providing jobs for the local community (thus lowering opposition to mining projects).

    But you are right, using fly wheels for energy recovery or electric brakes in combination with batteries/overhead power line back coupling is probably easier to do and we should remember that such technology is readily available (and was being used already 50 years ago).

    The solutions and technology is there, its proven and reliable. One would need to adapt the solution to the local conditions, there is no 'one size fits all'. We just need the mining companies to actually embrace such solutions and to seriously start to invest in these.


    Igor Hensing


    Here a nice picture from Riverside cement (USA) in the 1950's (I found this picture at a website dedicated to this topic, https://hutnyak.com, from David Hutnyak, Nevada, USA).


    Welcome to Hutnyak Consulting
    Welcome to the Hutnyak Consulting Web site. Click to enter.
  • Gentlement, some great thoughts there, especially with hybrid technology. Although a lot of this is being implemented already, I believe there is still a long way to go. 

    I would like to point out one of the topics that often receives less attention i.e. intra-operational handling of bulk mined material. The electrified bulk material handling conveyors like Overland Conveyors, Pipe Conveyors, etc. offer advantages over diesel and fossil fuel transport, as well as other conventional conveying methods. BEUMER Group is a leader in providing such technologies and did a technical session at recently concluded SME conference in Denver. Check out this webpage to find more information - https://www.beumergroup.com/en/your-industry/mining


    Utkarsh Sambyal

    Mining | BEUMER Group
    The website of the BEUMER Group with its group members BEUMER Maschinenfabrik, Crisplant and Enexco.
  • What are your thoughts on Hydrogen Technology?

    Interesting article on it: 



    A Renewable Hydrogen Way Forward for the Mining Industry?
    Mining companies are facing significant challenges in their efforts to decarbonize, and are looking for more opportunities to incorporate dynamic tec…
    • Menurut saya memang sudah saat nya tenaga H2O sudah memainkan peranan penting bagi Industri Pertambangan

      A Renewable Hydrogen Way Forward for the Mining Industry?
      Mining companies are facing significant challenges in their efforts to decarbonize, and are looking for more opportunities to incorporate dynamic tec…
  • Exactely, Li-Ion battery conversion of haul trucks is already possible and there are companies like ours, who are specialized in this type of product for mining equipment.

    For further information please have a look at http://www.emining.ch

    Best Regards, Gernot Beutle, gernot.beutle@emining.ch

    • Thanks for sharing, Gernot. What's your idea about the hybrid? 

    • Sorry, I did not see your comment.

      In my opinion, a diesel-electric hybrid is less efficient than a battery driven vehicle, especially in down-hill operations.

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