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Onaping Depth: Collaborating with the EV Industry to Prepare for Mining at Depth

Author: Glencore Canada | Date: 14/05/2019

Our Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (INO) in Ontario are looking to develop one of the world’s first mines wholly operated by battery electric-powered vehicles (EVs). The Onaping Depth Project, currently under construction and expected to come on-stream in 2023/24, is collaborating with EV-producers to ensure all parties are fully prepared for an all-electric mining operation.

Just a few years ago, Sudbury INO was at a point where without further investment, the site’s mines were expected to reach the end of their life cycle as early as 2023.

Onaping Depth held potential opportunity to extend Sudbury INO’s mine life; however, it demanded a commitment to innovation given the depth of the deposits. At 2,600 metres deep, a major portion of the expected operating costs for the mine infrastructure is for the energy used to power the ventilation required to eliminate exhaust contaminants, as well as the heat and the refrigeration needed to maintain reasonable temperatures.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer, has been testing the proof-of-concept battery electric R1300 at Sudbury INO with the machine running in trials alongside its diesel equivalent. Caterpillar used the insight gained from its proof-of-concept testing to develop the R1700 XE – its first commercial battery electric Load-Haul-Dump (LHD). 

Through using EVs, Onaping Depth is expected to reduce its energy usage by 44% for ventilation systems and by 30% for cooling equipment, compared to an equivalent diesel-fuelled operation.

EVs have no emissions, resulting in less pollutants and improved occupational health benefits. They are quieter to operate, experience less wear and tear, and have lower maintenance needs due to their simpler machinery.

Using EVs, Sudbury INO’s new mine will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44% and deliver considerable cost savings through reduced fuel and energy usage.