JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) − The move towards electrifying mine vehicles is becoming ever more prevalent, with mining companies motivated by the potential to cut costs and contribute to a more sustainable sector.
Ideanomics, a global company focused on facilitating the adoption of commercial electric vehicles (EV) and developing next generation EV products, can assist companies achieve financial benefits, communications VP and investor relations head Tony Sklar tells Mining Weekly.
He expounds that, aside from the significant reduction in pollutants from fuel-driven trucks, electric trucks can include autonomous driving technology, enabling vehicles to operate in dangerous areas remotely.
“Autonomous driving plus electric vehicles will improve the air quality and potentially save human lives,” he states.
Sklar explains that the electrification of mines provides a win-win scenario for companies and governments, as countries and companies will enjoy the economic benefits from the mining operations, while also negating additional pollution from operations.
“Because mining is highly regulated, establishing a favourable model can help pave the way for other highly regulated closed-loop areas to convert to electric – places like airports and ports,” he says.
Sklar mentions an example of this as in inner Mongolia, where mining companies are working with the government to reduce the negative environmental impact of their operations.
He indicated that the country’s research determined that while mining vehicles only comprise 3% of vehicles, they produce 18% of the region’s carbon monoxide, 23% of hydrocarbons, 53% of nitrogen oxides and 60% of particulate matter.
"In other words, the region’s mining industry is economically important but comes at great environmental and health cost – both parties were motivated to find a solution,” he explains.
Sklar notes, however, that electrification is not without its challenges.
He points out that these include that EV batteries need to power high-torque electric trucks with large payloads and not require constant recharging and the cost to replace vehicle fleets with new EV fleets.
“Battery technology has been developing so rapidly, the first issue has largely been resolved.
"The financing to replace vehicles is where Ideanomics plays an important part. For mining companies, they already understand the economic incentives, lower cost to power vehicles, less maintenance costs, fewer parts to replace, but the down payment for EVs can be up to 50% versus internal combustion engine vehicles which is around 10% to 20%. This additional upfront cash payment might be challenging for some small- and mid-sized operators,” he explains.
In terms of providing financial assistance, Sklar informs that Ideanomics offers a business solution called sales to financing to charging.
“We work with our preferred manufacturing partners to help mining companies procure vehicles at a discount. Then we work with our financing partners to help mining companies with the down payment so the mining companies do not have to put up a large cash deposit.
We also work with charging technology companies, clean energy providers and utility companies to sell discounted clean electricity,” he says.