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Sudbury mining firms work together on battery electric issues

Mining companies and manufacturers meet to find solutions on achieving Net Zero emissions for underground mining by 2030
MacLean Engineering manufactures a series of battery electric vehicles designed for use underground, including the Mine-Mate boom lift.

Several members of the Sudbury mining community will be collaborating next week to take part in a two-day forum on the best ways of moving toward battery electric mining.

The event hosted by GMG (Global Mining Guidelines group) will take place at Science North, Sept. 12 and 13.

"Organizers from Vale, Agnico Eagle, Glencore, MacLean, and NORCAT have built a program to enable companies to work more closely together. They want you to participate and be part of the solutions that come out of these events," said a statement from GMG.

It was noted that most underground mining operations still make extensive use of diesel-powered mining vehicles, but there is a significant move toward using battery electric vehicles for both the economic and environmental benefits.

Organizers said several key questions need to be answered such as how to solve the challenges of integrating a mixed fleet of vehicles, dealing with a variety of manufacturers, creating battery charging stations, working with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to have a safe introduction of electric vehicles

GMG said the conference would "hear from a panel of OEMs involved in the deployment of BEVs on how they are integrating a mixed fleet, what is and isn’t working, how they are tackling things like battery handling, and what’s required to enable successful implementation."

A breakout session will focus on how Canada's mining industry is going to achieve Net Zero mining targets by the year 2030 and to get there while coping with the current global supply chain issues.

Other sessions will examine the value of moving toward autonomous vehicles in underground mining. Christian Quirion, senior advisor on innovation at Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., will lead that discussion.

A follow-up panel discussion will discuss how to reach sustainable autonomous-vehicle automation underground, how to do it safely and still achieve sustainable production.

The discussions are also expected to examine the role of using fully automated vehicles underground as mines go to greater depths to extract the ore.

Discussions are also planned on coming up with new ideas for designing mines and what could be, or should be, done differently to improve mining safety and production.

A panel discussion will also be held on the topic “Don’t Let the Bad Guys Stop Your Mine”. The discussion will focus on cybersecurity and how to stop cyber criminals from trying to shut down a mining operation. The risk is seen as a threat to mine safety and mine productivity. 

Discussion will take place on what mining companies should be doing to improve cybersecurity.