Several suggestions about mining operations are floating around, particularly about their ecological footprint. Mining techniques have not been precisely that environmentally friendly in the past. But, a German mining equipment company is planning to change this with the help of huge electric trucks. Every year, millions of kilograms of minerals are extracted from the Earth’s crust by miners who depend on an enormous convoy of mining vehicles called “Ultra-Class” haul trucks. The new ETF haul truck can extract four times more minerals as compared to the conventional massive yellow mining vehicles.
As opposed to the average dump truck usually seen on an urban construction site, the gigantic haul trains are much more powerful. These behemoths are supported by multiple axles and a reinforced frame to haul “400 metric tonnes” of material in just one load by only one driver. Their massive size give the vehicle its capacity to haul, but makes them exceptionally difficult to handle. The truck operators should be specially trained and the roads on which they travel have to be extra wide.
The mining trucks were on holdup for a few years due to the restrictions of such an enormous vehicle. But, a new “smarter” truck was designed by the European Truck Factory of Germany which is more versatile and can haul much more material.
The ETF mining trucks are capable of hauling as much as 400 tonnes individually in merely a single load. Some models can distribute the weight over as many as seven axles which rest on four tires each. Besides, the truck is a lot more stable owing to a “Central Tyre Inflation System”. The system actively monitors and adjusts the height of each wheel to counteract bumps in the road. In case of an unexpected deflation of a tire, the driver is alerted automatically by the system and the wheel is raised to let the driver continue driving. On the other hand, traditionally, a flat tire would immediately halt any operations of a truck. But, the ETF mining truck’s capability of raising and lowering its wheels allows it to continue to work regardless of a flat tire.
Furthermore, the truck also features an all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering, which enhances control and significantly drops its turning radius. The ETF trucks can be used on the same roads where current Large Haul Trucks are operating with existing haul road profiles and bend radius. Side-tippers are standard.
The ability to link the trucks into a single haul train which can still be operated by just one driver adds to the trucks’ resourcefulness. A heavy-duty steel linkage acts as a physical connection as another enclosed armed data cable within its structure carries control data including throttle, brake, and steering input from the lead truck. The connected trucks pass on information back and forth which assists them to act in unison, allowing much greater payloads of up to 4,500 metric tonnes to be hauled in just one trip.
While maintaining the lowest cost per tonne in the industry, the trucks are effective, innovative, and produce zero emissions. Full production of the vehicle has recently been started by ETF.
The owner of ETF told:
“In 2003 I started the development of a Modular Technical Platform for Mining Trucks. In August 2015 we started the design of a Battery Electric All-Wheel-Drive surface mining vehicle with Energy Harvesting. Zero Emissions & Low Noise. (No diesel engines or turbines, only batteries)”
The design is not only incredible, but also applicable and beneficial in the real world. The truck is more durable, easier to repair, and overall, could cost less than traditional haul trucks. It is definitely a huge step in the right direction, though not a permanent fix to the world’s mining problems.