This giant mining dump truck charges its battery even when moving

Hitachi tells us that the “world’s first ultra-large battery-powered dump truck” is already working at an open-pit copper and gold mine in Zambia. It is a prototype that is undergoing validation tests under operational loads to verify its performance and all supporting infrastructure.

Heavy mining machinery uses huge amounts of diesel fuel and for some time now we have seen some attempts at electrification by companies such as Williams Advanced Engineering, CAT or Anglo American (with hydrogen) to reduce pollution. Hitachi Construction Machinery began its project in 2021, together with ABB to get closer to net zero emissions from mining machines. In June of that year, the development of a battery-powered electric dump truck began.

Already in 2023, First Quantum Minerals agreed to conduct feasibility tests for the truck at its Kansanshi copper-gold mine in Zambia. Why there? Because they already use dozens of Hitachi diesel-electric trolleybuses. This battery prototype takes advantage of the existing network of overhead charging lines

Diesel-electric vehicles use the internal combustion engine to move like a normal truck, but they can also lift a metal part to connect to overhead cables and run solely on electricity. A battery-electric version would completely eliminate diesel emissions. This would be very interesting precisely in Zambia, a country where almost 92% of energy needs are covered with renewable energy.

In January 2024, the first tests of the prototype were completed. They used a Hitachi EH4000 AC-3 as a base, a dump truck that measures 14 meters in length, with 29-inch tires and powered by a Cummins engine that can load up to 221 tons. It has just arrived in Zambia and now it must be seen if it can operate continuously thanks to the energy provided by the catenary already installed and its regenerative braking system from the prototype.

This dynamic charging configuration should eliminate the need for the truck to stop to recharge. In addition, it requires a smaller battery than usual, which will undoubtedly make the car cheaper and should maximize charging capacity.

“This system is an operational, practical and economically feasible solution that will reduce mining emissions for many years,” says John Gregory of First Quantum. This video (from some time ago) explains the details of the project and the static loading option being considered:

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