Cleaner Air Underground

Cleaner Air Underground

Underground hard rock mining companies continue to go deeper in search of more raw materials and higher-grade ore. Working at such depths leads to air quality concerns due to equipment emissions, which today are primarily powered by diesel. To safely ventilate work sites, customers must build wide ventilation shafts that require significant time and financial investment. Another challenge at such mining depths is that ambient rock temperatures can reach roughly 48°C (120°F). Environmental temperatures are further increased by the heat emitted from diesel engines. Power for refrigeration and air conditioning systems to maintain a comfortable working environment can be costly.

To address these and other concerns, Caterpillar leveraged our investments and deep expertise in energy storage and electric drive technology to design and assemble the R1300 Battery Electric Load-Haul-Dump (LHD), the first fully battery-powered machine developed by Caterpillar, excluding previous acquisitions. Battery electric mining equipment not only eliminates greenhouse gases and decreases operating expenses, but also significantly improves health and safety for operators working in an enclosed underground environment by removing diesel particulates, increasing comfort and reducing vibration and noise.

This diesel-free solution also minimizes fan and refrigeration power needs. As a result, electrifying our mining equipment actually lowers overall energy consumption and costs. A mining customer in Canada conservatively estimates $7 million in annual savings from electricity reductions alone.

Our proof of concept machine is currently undergoing operational testing with our customer. This test bed machine allows us to establish a knowledge base of applications for battery and charging technology in the underground hard rock environment, with the vision of developing a portfolio of battery electric equipment that offers improved environmental and safety performance.