Partners develop underground EV charging stations for mines
Siemens and mining services supplier Murray Engineering have developed a high-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station for use at mines — below and above ground. The charging stations will initially be used to power a light EV currently being designed and manufactured by Murray Engineering — providing a holistic, fully enclosed solution specifically designed to handle the toughest underground mining conditions in Australia.
With the mining industry looking at EVs to reduce CO2 emissions and protect the health of workers through reduced exposure to diesel fumes, the first of Murray Engineering’s vehicles will be ready for testing by the end of the year, with potential application at mine sites by mid-2021.
Murray Engineering has the scale and access to test the solution through parent company the Byrnecut Group, the largest underground mining contractor in the country, which also owns one of the largest fleets of light vehicles used in mines.
Siemens Australia Pacific CEO Jeff Connolly welcomed the partnership, saying, “Since 1872, Siemens has been implementing globally renowned technologies to help Australian industry progress. This partnership will continue our trajectory of bringing the best in the world to the region and helping provide safer, quicker, more cost-effective and sustainable solutions. The partnership with Murray Engineering helps address a future need by trialling something that has never been done in one of Australia’s most critical industries.”
Siemens will provide its Sicharge UC high-power DC chargers, which provide a flexible output range from 125 to 600 kW, with five front ends on each station as well as pantograph charging. Siemens Sicharge UC200 can deliver 200 kW and is already onsite at Murray Engineering headquarters in Pinjarra. The Sicharge UC portfolio enables the charging stations to scale for light, medium and heavy vehicles.
Murray Engineering will design and fabricate a heavy-duty enclosure to protect the unit from the harsh underground conditions and enable ease of manoeuvrability. The enclosures will be air conditioned to protect the chargers and will have human–machine interface (HMI) panels on the outside to control the unit. The high-powered units will allow vehicles to be fully charged in minutes (rather than hours).
Murray Engineering Innovation and Technology Manager Dr Max Ong said, “Existing battery and charging solutions have fallen short of miners’ expectations where it matters most. Their commitment to cleaner, healthier and sustainable energy requires that the technology delivers equal benefits to productivity, safety and efficiency.
“Through Murray’s experience and technology capabilities, our fast-charging vehicles and infrastructure will deliver those benefits whilst enhancing asset value and through-life cost. Being part of the largest underground mining contracting company in Australia, we understand the vehicle requirements very well and are well placed to develop a solution that not only matches, but also pre-empts, the needs of our customers and the industry,” Dr Ong said.
Murray Engineering owns and operates a large fleet of light vehicles in its own right and integrates mine specification to over 100 vehicles annually.
“Many existing electric vehicles designed for mining are matched to their own specific charging station, making the solution inefficient and expensive in the long run,” Dr Ong said.
“The solution we are working on will be vehicle agnostic and has the potential to be scaled up as required. The importance of local manufacturing on Australian soil has never been so important.”
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