A Techno-Economic Analysis of the Use of Electric Loading and Hauling Technologies in Canadian Underground Mines


Alberto Romero, ULB

The number of underground mines replacing diesel by battery powered mobile equipment is growing worldwide. The latter produces locally zero emissions and less heat, improving air quality in the working areas, and can potentially reduce energy costs due to lower ventilation requirements and in the face of higher fuel prices. However, there is a lack of systematic approaches to evaluate the potential economic benefit of switching from diesel mobile technologies to electric ones. This paper presents a method to answer the question of whether a mine with known operating conditions should invest in battery-powered electric equipment to reduce its total costs. Furthermore, this method provides the optimal number of electric and diesel equipment in relationship with their impact on the ventilation system and the total costs of running the mine from the energy perspective. A case study of an underground mine in Northern Ontario (Canada) is presented to validate the method proposed. The scenarios studied include the specific climatic conditions of the region, and the possibility to use heat recovery for the ventilation system. Overall, results show that the use of electric mobile plants is cost competitive, and especially so when electricity cost can be lowered through load-shedding strategies.