Editor’s note: Many mining operations around the world are switching from diesel engines to battery-powered electric vehicles. Mines in Canada are making the switch and Canada is becoming a leading source for the materials needed for this transition. According to Natural Resources Canada, “Canada is the only Western nation that has an abundance of cobalt, graphite, lithium, and nickel, that are essential to creating the batteries and electric vehicles of the future.” The following article looks at the challenges and solutions to the move to battery-powered mines.
The mining industry is on the verge of a major shift from diesel engines to batteries in order to provide power to the mine’s various systems and mobile equipment. The existing mine electric-power system infrastructure is not designed for additional electrical demands and may not be up to the task of adding multiple high-powered battery-charging stations or onboard battery-charging systems. Issues such as overloading the existing infrastructure’s transformers, cables and conductors could cause prolonged system power outages and electrical equipment infrastructure damage. Harmonic current emissions generated by inverter-based battery chargers can cause power system equipment heating and premature component failure. This article discusses mine electric-power distribution system measurements, modeling and analysis used in assessing the impact of upgrades on mine power systems.