Swedish mining equipment company Epiroc has embarked on a €16million EU-funded project in collaboration with mining companies, equipment and system manufacturers and universities to develop a carbon-neutral mining operation.
The three-year project is called Nexgem Sims. It will support new technologies, methods and processes that will enable a more sustainable and efficient work, a key aspect being to develop autonomous carbon-neutral mining processes.
This includes the use of battery-electric mining equipment, 5G communciations for optimal connectivity and positioning, autonomous material handling, AI-powered traffic and fleet control, and machines that communicate with each other without human intervention.
Epiroc machines that will be part of the project include the Scooptram ST14 Battery loader and the Minetruck MT42 Battery hauler.
The project is also focusing on the the modern mine worker, with an emphasis on safety, for example by developing autonomous mine inspection technology.
The project is being co-ordinated by Epiroc. Other project partners are mining companies Boliden, Agnico Eagle Finland, KGHM Polska, K+S and OZ Minerals; services and system suppliers Ericsson, Mobilaris MCE, AFRY and KGHM Cuprum; and universities Luleå University of Technology and RWTH Aachen University. They are all based in Europe apart from OZ Minerals, which is Australian.
Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO says: “Collaboration and partnership among stakeholders that have different areas of expertise is increasingly important to successfully advance complex digital and automated systems that will improve the mining industry’s environmental impact, work environment and productivity. We are proud to be part of and to lead the Nexgem Sims project, which will play a crucial role in this positive development.”
Nexgem Sims builds on the EU-sponsored H2020 Sims project, also co-ordinated by Epiroc, which ran between 2017 and 2020. It played an important role in advancing the use of battery-electric machines.
Nexgen Sims – the full title of the programme is Next Generation Carbon Neutral Pilots for Smart Intelligent Mining Systems – started on 1 May and is intended to finish on 30 April 2024. The budget for the project is €16million.