Many of the challenges of mine electrification and decarbonisation stretch beyond the level of individual technologies to the system level, requiring re-thinking and re- engineering of fundamental concepts of mine operation. The Electric Mine Consortium (the Consortium) is a collaboration of eight mining operators and nine mining services companies working to tackle this challenge.
Founded in 2020, the Consortium works through six key working groups, each covering a crucial aspect of brownfield and greenfield electric mine development: mine design, energy storage, electrification infrastructure, heavy underground equipment, light equipment, and heavy surface haulage.1
The consortium is comprised of a range of mining companies that includes South 32, OZ Minerals, IGO, Blackstone Minerals, Evolution Mining, Barminco and Goldfields, with a shared objective to enable decarbonisation via full-process electrification. 2
In each case, the Consortium works to improve four areas: facilitating key technology choices, supply chain availability, policy environment, and awareness of the advantages of electrification in the mining and broader business community. This reflects several recurring themes in the development of a zero emission copper mine of the future: the need for operators to manage risk when choosing unproven technologies, the need for R&D in the supply chain by OEMs, who must assume disproportionate risk during technology development, and the need to marry long- term carbon reduction goals with short-term cost and safety benefits.
The Consortium aims to improve these areas by promoting the development of six key enablers: data sharing between electrified mines, building tools for financial modelling of electrified mine operations, tools and standards for measuring carbon emissions, working with universities to build a skills pipeline, identifying crucial areas of policy, and marketing and communications channels to increase awareness across the mining community. To date, the Consortium has facilitated field testing of power storage and electrified mine equipment, 3 encouraged the building of simulation and business modelling tools through a crowdsourced challenge, 4 and established a working group for the development of a carbon measurement platform. This activity provides a model for the type of cross-industry collaboration that will be needed going forward.