There are a lot of insinuations floating around about mining operations, specifically regarding their ecological footprint. In the past, mining methods have not exactly been that environmentally friendly. However, a German mining equipment company is looking to turn that around with massive electric trucks.
ETF Mining Trucks
D5-340 Mining Truck on haul. [Image Source: ETF Equipment]
Miners pull out millions of kilograms of minerals from the Earth's crust every year. And every year, miners rely on a massive fleet of mining vehicles known as "Ultra-Class" haul trucks. The new ETF haul truck, however, is capable of pulling four times more minerals than the traditional giant yellow practically symbolic monstrous mining vehicles.
The massive haul trains are much more powerful than the average dump truck you may see on an urban construction site. These behemoths are supported by multiple axles and a reinforced frame to haul400 metric tonnes of material in just one load by just one driver. The enormous size which gives the vehicle its capacity to haul also makes them incredibly difficult to handle. The operators of the truck must be specially trained and the roads on which they travel have to be extra wide.
For a few years, the mining trucks were at a bottleneck, hindered by the limitations of such a massive vehicle. However, European Truck Factory of Germany devised a new "smarter" truck which is more versatile and can haul much more material.
ETF Mining Truck Technologies
Individually, ETF mining trucks can haul as much as 400 tonnes in a single load. Some models have the ability to distribute the weight over as many as seven axles which rest on four tires each. The truck is also a lot more stable because of a "Central Tyre Inflation System". The system actively monitors and adjusts the height of each wheel to counteract bumps in the road. If a tire suddenly deflates, the system automatically alerts the driver and raises the wheel to allow the driver to continue a run. Traditionally, a flat tire would immediately halt any operations of a truck. However, the ETF mining truck's ability to raise and lower its wheels allows it to continue to work- despite a flat tire.
The truck also features an all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering, which increases control and drastically decreases 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.
Adding to the trucks' dexterity is the added ability of being able to link the trucks into a single haul train which can still be operated by just one driver. 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 relay information back and forth which enables them to act in unison, allowing much greater payloads of up to 4,500 metric tonnes to be hauled in just one trip.
ETF D8 haul train configuration. [Image Source: ETF Equipment]
Moving forward with ETF vehicles
The trucks are effective, innovative, and produce zero emissions, all while maintaining the lowest cost per tonne in the industry. ETF recently began full production of the vehicle.
"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)" Says the owner of ETF.
The design is remarkable, and better yet, is applicable and useful in the real world. The truck is more durable, easier to repair, and overall, could cost less than conventional haul trucks. Although it is not a permanent fix to the world's mining problems, it is certainly a big step in the right direction.
[Edited: Featured Image Source: ETF Equipment]
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Written by Maverick Baker