While the challenges associated with mine electrification touch all aspects of mining, thelargest systemic changes will involve a few lynchpin technologies. One of the most crucialof these is energy transfer, which historically has been a weakness of electrified equipmentwhen compared to diesel systems. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a collaborationsupported by Austmine, BHP, Rio Tinto, and nineteen other mining companies to kick-startsolutions to address the battery charging problem.1
The project aims to develop a system that is capable of transferring 400 kWh of electricity over the course of asingle haulage truck shift. To do this, the project has accepted technology proposals from OEMs and startupsworldwide. The challenge specified system-level requirements but remained technology-agnostic.2 The resultingproposals involved a range of approaches, including high-voltage fast charging, augmented-trolley on-shiftcharging systems, and fast battery swap systems.
Of these proposals, eight finalists were selected: ABB, Ampcontrol and Tritium (Australia), BluVein XL, DBEngineering & Consulting with Echion Technologies, Hitachi Energy, Shell Consortium, Siemens Off-boardpower supply, and 3ME Technology. Four of the technologies focus to address on-shift charging, using trolleyor other systems to deliver power while the truck is in motion. Three make use of fast-or ultrafast-chargingtechnologies, while Ampcontrol and Tritium submitted an autonomous battery-swap solution.3
These winners are now working with the operators and OEMs involved in the Charge On Innovation Challenge tohelp bring these technologies to market. The Challenge sets an example for how mining can use open innovationmodels, like those used in the recent X-Prizes, to accelerate the early development of innovative technologies.