The Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI), Propulsion Quebec and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), in collaboration with Adria Power Systems, Dana TM4, Fournier et fils, and Nouveau Monde Graphite, have announced the development of a new electric propulsion system with a rapid recharging infrastructure adapted to heavy vehicles in the open-pit mining industry.

The mining industry is in a transition towards a lower environmental footprint, and some operators are investing to phase out diesel vehicles, which are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions and generate high operating costs. Currently, there are no electric-powered heavy-duty trucks on the market that meet the challenging operational and climate needs of open-pit mines.

Fournier et Fils, a recognized operator in the mining sector, will provide a Western Star 6900XD truck with a 40-tonne capacity, as well as its technical experts who will assist in converting the truck to accommodate the new components. The motors will be developed by Dana TM4, a world leader in electric wheel motors.

IVI will design the battery based on the new recommendations of the Global Mining Guidelines (GMG), and NRC will ensure the vehicle will be suitable for operation in the harsh conditions of open-pit mines, during all seasons. Minimization of operating expenses will be a major objective. Charging infrastructure will be developed by Adria Power Systems, which will also be in charge of battery assembly.

In addition to being cost-effective, the electric mining truck will be designed to generate highly positive environmental impacts for the mining industry. For example, Nouveau Monde Graphite, one of the project’s mining partners, plans to use twelve electric trucks to save more than 80,000 liters of diesel fuel per year. A prototype is expected to make its first real-world test runs as early as spring 2022 at a Fournier et Fils quarry and at the Nouveau Monde Graphite site.

Nouveau Monde Graphite announced on October 26 that it has concluded a five-year agreement with Olin Corporation to cover the commercial space for operations, site services and the supply of certain raw materials to implement the Company’s proprietary thermochemical purification operations. Nouveau Monde will construct two pilot commercial-scale purification furnaces within Olin’s existing facility in the Bécancour industrial park, with commissioning scheduled for mid-2021.

The Company plans to launch permitting and construction of a commercial-scale plant as early as 2022, targeting production of 40,000 tonnes per annum of anode material initially. Growth in lithium-ion battery capacity will be the demand driver for the company’s coated spherical purified graphite, which is expected to become the battery’s dominant active anode material. Global demand for this product is forecast to grow to well over 3 million tonnes per annum in the next decade, from only hundreds tonnes per annum today. The company will target larger particle sizes to produce high-purity, carbon-neutral graphite flakes for high-growth applications like bipolar plates used in fuel cells, foils for heat dissipation in electronics (5G), expandable graphite for fire retardant applications and other speciality applications. Full scale commercial operations are anticipated by early 2023.