Jun 10, 2021

Sandvik sees bigger market for battery-driven mining gear

2 min
Sandvik expects the market for battery-electric underground mining equipment to hit a higher gear in two to three years

Sandvik forecasts the market for battery-electric underground mining equipment will hit a higher gear in two to three years, as mining companies attempt to lower emissions and cut costs.

Mine electrification boom is looming

With an electrification boom looming, Sandvik, whose competitors include Epiroc and Caterpillar, could sell more electric than diesel-driven underground mining kit in ten years, its mining business head said.

Although Sandvik has some 30 battery-electric loaders and trucks in underground mine production, which it says is more than any competitor, these make up less than 0.5% of its total fleet of loaders and trucks, reports Reuters.

But while the market is still limited, it is gaining pace, said Henrik Ager, head of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

"In the past two years we have gone from thinking that electrification might turn into a great technology shift to becoming certain that's where we're heading," he said.

Around 60% of an underground mine's energy consumption is for infrastructure, which is mainly electrified, but loaders and trucks, carrying up to 65 tonnes of rock, still run on diesel.

Ager said electric machines should be fully proven to work in mines and be discussed in all procurement in two to three years.

Investment bank UBS said electrification will bring lower emissions and savings for mining companies.

"In the years to come we shall see an accelerated replacement cycle for especially underground mining equipment, although surface equipment will also benefit from solid growth rates," analyst Guillermo Peigneux Lojo said.

Sandvik’s battery-electric equipment is championed by Newmont

Battery-driven machines are more expensive to buy, but savings on ventilation and cooling, big costs in underground mines, makes it beneficial to go electric already, Ager said. It could take time, however, before (we see) fully electrified mines.

"Let's say we start selling more electric than diesel in 10 years ... before most diesel has been swapped for electricity, it's been more like 15 to 20 years," Ager said, adding Canada has moved farthest due to tough diesel rules.

Sites which use Sandvik's battery-electric equipment include Newmont's Borden gold mine and New Gold's New Afton mine in Canada.

The Swedish firm, whose equipment uses lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, expects to offer a full range of underground electric loaders and haul trucks by 2022.

Sandvik, which has automation installed in some 65 mines, estimates that around 1,000 underground mines have a strong business case for automation.

Ager said Sandvik's ambition is the same as U.S carmaker Tesla's - to build around the battery, rather than starting with the vehicle itself.

"It's the Tesla parallel. That is what they have done, and it's much better," Ager added. 

Sandvik Automine

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Jun 8, 2021

Cornish Lithium trialling DLE technologies

Cornish Lithium
Direct Lithium Extraction
3 min
Cornish Lithium’s CEO Jeremy Wrathall announces completion of a geothermal water test site to trial Direct Lithium Extraction technologies in Cornwall

Cornish Lithium, a pioneering mineral exploration and development company headquartered in Cornwall, UK, has completed construction of its United Downs Geothermal Water Test Site.

Cornish Lithium has also installed its first demonstration plant to trial environmentally-responsible Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) process technologies. The company has also made significant progress towards defining its maiden Resource estimate at its lithium in hard rock Trelavour Project.

Trelavour Project Highlights

  • Successfully completed the construction of the United Downs Geothermal Water Test Site.
  • First demonstration plants installed.
  • Facility designed to establish which DLE technologies are most suited to low-carbon extraction of lithium from Cornish geothermal waters.
  • Second hard rock drilling campaign is now complete at the Trelavour Project enabling the company to publish its maiden Resource to define the project’s potential scale in autumn 2021.
  • Demonstration mineral concentrator plant has been constructed.
  • Test work to optimise the extraction of lithium from mica minerals underway with Grinding Solutions Ltd.

Cornish Lithium carried out its second drilling campaign at Trelavour in February this year.

Net-Zero Carbon Goals

Jeremy Wrathall, CEO & Founder of Cornish Lithium commented:“Our lithium in geothermal waters test site at United Downs provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate what modern, low-carbon mineral extraction looks like, and the results will inform the development of the larger pilot plant that we intend to construct by the end of March next year.”

“As world leaders gather in Cornwall for the G7 summit to take collective action towards securing a green and global economic recovery, and with the news that Nissan is considering constructing a battery gigafactory in the North East, the timing could not be better for Cornish Lithium to play a significant role in establishing a crucial domestic supply chain for the EV industry.

“This will not only boost the regional and national economy as the UK transitions to net zero-carbon, it will also position Cornwall at the heart of the green industrial revolution, continuing a proud 4,000-year history of mineral extraction and innovation.

United Downs Geothermal Water Test Site

Cornish Lithium has completed the construction of the Geothermal Water Test Site at United Downs. The site is a test facility designed to trial a number of DLE technologies on both deep (delivered by GeoCubed in collaboration with Geothermal Engineering Ltd (‘GEL’)) and shallow geothermal waters (from Cornish Lithium’s research boreholes).

The test work is designed to establish which of these highly selective technologies is most suited to low-carbon extraction of lithium from Cornish geothermal waters. Facilities at the test site include:

  • DLE technology demonstration plants
  • Borehole pumping infrastructure
  • Demonstration lithium extraction circuit
  • A visitor centre and offices for the project team
  • A core shed housing the 2,000 metres of drilling core recovered to date
  • Bulk fluid storage for the geothermal water samples collected for testing
  • Field laboratory for initial analysis of samples

Lithium Extraction Solutions

The technology providers Cornish Lithium has initially selected to demonstrate low-carbon DLE technologies from Cornish geothermal waters are Geolith and Precision Periodic.

Geolith specialises in delivering sustainable lithium extraction solutions. Geolith’s technology utilises microfiber-based materials with selective absorption properties, which will act as a “filter” to selectively capture lithium or unwanted contaminants. The Geolith demonstration plant is expected to be in operation for three weeks from Wednesday 9 June 2021.

Precision Periodic’s proprietary Nano Beads filtration media is designed to extract and concentrate lithium ions without the need for pre-treatment, heat, or pressure. The process is expected to generate zero waste and the geothermal waters can be returned to the source (once just the lithium ions have been extracted) or filtered with additional Nano Beads that will clean the geothermal waters of other elements that could potentially produce water for other applications such as farming. The system is designed to be highly scalable and requires very little energy. Their low-carbon, small footprint is ideal for locating processing equipment at each individual site.

Cornish Lithium

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