In this episode, ABB’s technology-focused podcast digs into one of the world’s most essential industries – but also one that is no stranger to criticism: mining.
While the minerals and materials produced by mining are increasingly essential to equip us with everyday essentials, such as computers and electric motors, the industry is under growing pressure to improve its green credentials. And like many other sectors of the global economy, mining is looking towards electrification, digitalization and automation to enhance its sustainability and productivity.
Max Luedtke, Head of Mining for ABB Process Industries, explains why the mining sector is preparing to embrace an electrified future and how solutions such as ABB Ability eMine can help achieve this.
Why does mining matter in driving a more sustainable future?
Mining is an industry vital to our daily lives and crucial for the supply of key minerals such as copper, iron, cobalt and lithium. It is also key to enabling the shift to electric vehicles.
“We see copper is used a lot in electric motors and also in all kinds of technologies. And lithium is one of the materials that we see in the batteries.”
“Since the mining industry is part of the solution for a more sustainable future and the way we want to live in the world, but also contributes seven per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, it has an obligation to say, okay, let’s do mining in a better way”.
Keeping up with demand through electrification
When mining companies, in collaboration with technology leaders such as ABB, look to improve sustainability, any changes must also drive productivity to keep up with this increasing demand.
“If you say the trucks used in mining emit the most carbon dioxide, the best way to reduce the overall emissions on the mine is to switch to electric trucks. Then if you look at the productivity, changing from a diesel or a benzine car to an electrical car means that the service intervals, are much less. Electric is also the solution if you want the mines to become autonomous because you connect electricity together with the automation and digitalization technologies.”
“It’s very interesting that actually 130 years ago, ABB started in mining with actually installing electrical motors for a hoist solution and now we are electrifying all of the rest of the mine.”
ABB eMine – a holistic solution
This switch to electric is where ABB’s eMine comes in – a purposeful approach, proven methods and a suite of integrated electrification and digital solutions solutions which look at managing the industry’s challenges in a holistic way.
“There is a clear transition going on now in the mining industry, and the eMine™ is actually the concept that brings everything together. We work with a lot of other partners and are involved early with the customer, looking at how we have to design the mine and what are the steps needed to make this a success. This enables us to break down the big vision into tangible projects. So that is the role and that is the whole idea with the eMine.
“A good example of this step-by-step process is when we talked to one mining house in Canada, where they said it was too early to electrify one of their big fleets. But they had buses that were driving the working people up to the mine. So, by simply electrifying these buses, there was suddenly a change in the perception from a lot of the working people.”
“It’s like we are starting a new chapter with switching to all-electric mines and it’s a very exciting time to be within the mining industry.”