Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum Minerals have entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) to advance the development of sustainable mining solutions at First Quantum’s mining operations in Zambia
A proof of concept will be implemented as part of the LOI. Hitachi Construction Machinery will supply the first of its full battery, rigid frame dump trucks fitted with an ABB battery, on-board charger and associated infrastructure by the end of FY2023 for technological feasibility trials. These will be conducted at First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper-gold mine operations, including the S3 expansion projected for commissioning and first production in 2025.
Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum have a long-standing relationship that will be further strengthened through this LOI and POC. The Kansanshi mine is ideally suited to these trials due to its existing trolley assist systems, which align with development of battery dump trucks. First Quantum currently operates 41 Hitachi Construction Machinery trolley trucks at Kansanshi, meaning much of the required infrastructure for the battery dump truck is already in place.
Developed in collaboration with ABB, Hitachi Construction Machinery’s battery dump truck utilises on-board energy storage and trolley systems to generate power. Via a pantograph, the battery dump truck connects to overhead power lines, drawing power to allow the truck to run. At the same time, the generated energy is used to charge the battery system. This is separate to the regenerated power from the retarder braking system which will generate a high level of charge during haul road descent.
Applying a proven technology from its current trolley truck system to the battery dump truck has allowed Hitachi Construction Machinery to expedite the development of its product to market. The retrofittable system design is also an added advantage, allowing current diesel truck fleets to be converted in the future to utilise the battery system, offering scalable fleet capability, minimal operational impact and greater value for customers such as First Quantum.
Beyond the mine site, the partnership is expected to facilitate significant investment in Zambia to deliver social and economic benefits. An in-country engine repair facility is planned for establishment, supported by both companies, which will provide an increase in employment and skills development opportunities within the local community.
Sonosuke Ishii, senior vice president and executive officer, president of mining business unit for Hitachi Construction Machinery, commented, “Hitachi Construction Machinery and First Quantum have a close and respectful working relationship – since their first equipment purchase in 2004 – and we are honoured to cement this further through ongoing collaboration and support with the signing of this LOI. The battery dump truck represents the future, not only for the Hitachi Construction Machinery Group but for the mining industry as a whole, and we are pleased to establish this proving ground on an active mine site and work with First Quantum on advancing this zero emission solution. It’s one of the many solutions in development that will allow Hitachi Construction Machinery to contribute toward realizing a safe and sustainable society by solving critical issues related to carbon emissions reduction and climate change.”
John Gregory, director of Mining for First Quantum Minerals, added, “Innovation in mining is integral to First Quantum’s philosophy and we’re excited about this technology partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery. Pit electrification is an area of focus for First Quantum as we seek productive, safe and profitable decarbonisation of our mining activities in order to deliver lower carbon intensity copper that will be essential for the global energy transition.
“Together with in-pit crushing and conveying and electric drilling, First Quantum saves an estimated 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year across our Zambian operations, while delivering improved productivity, cost savings and health and safety benefits. In collaborating with Hitachi Construction Machinery on battery dump trucks, we look forward to the next phase of pit electrification as we seek to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in line with our target of a 50% reduction by 2030.”