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Electric vehicle charging stations developed to handle the toughest mining conditions

AusIMM Bulletin
ยท 500 words, 2 min read
sicharge unit

Western Australian mining services supplier Murray Engineering and global technology company Siemens have collaborated to develop a ground-breaking high-powered electric vehicle charging station for use at mines both below and above ground.  

The charging stations will first be used to power a new light electric vehicle (eLV) being designed and manufactured by Murray Engineering, providing a holistic fully enclosed solution specifically designed to handle the toughest underground mining conditions in Australia. 

This announcement comes at a time when the mining industry is looking at electric vehicles to reduce their CO2 emissions and to protect the health of workers through reduced exposure to diesel fumes. The first of Murray Engineering’s eLVs will be ready for testing by the end of 2020, with potential application at mine sites by mid-2021. Murray Engineering has the scale and access to test the solution through its strategic relationship with Byrnecut, the largest underground mining contractor in the country, which also owns one of the largest fleets of light vehicles used in mines. 

Siemens Australia Pacific CEO Jeff Connolly welcomed the partnership saying: ‘The partnership with Murray Engineering helps address a future need by trialling something that has never been done in one of Australia’s most critical industries.’ 

Siemens will provide its Sicharge UC high power DC chargers, which provide a super flexible output range from 125kW to 600kW with five frontends on each station as well as pantograph charging. Siemens Sicharge UC200 can deliver 200kW and is already onsite at Murray Engineering headquarters in Pinjarra. The flexible high-power range of Siemens Sicharge UC portfolio enables the charging stations to scale for light, medium and heavy vehicles. 

Murray Engineering will design and fabricate a heavy-duty enclosure to protect the unit from the harsh underground conditions and enable ease of manoeuvrability. The enclosures will be air conditioned to protect the chargers and will have human machine interface (HMI) panels on the outside to control the unity. These high-powered units will allow vehicles to be fully charged in minutes (rather than hours). 

Dr Max Ong, Innovation and Technology manager at Murray Engineering, said, ‘Existing battery and charging solutions have fallen short of miners’ expectations where it matters most. Their commitment to cleaner, healthier and sustainable energy requires that the technology delivers equal benefits to productivity, safety and efficiency.’ 

Murray Engineering owns and operates a large fleet of light vehicles in its own right and integrates mine specification to over 100 vehicles annually. 

‘Many existing electric vehicles designed for mining are matched to their own specific charging station, making the solution inefficient and expensive in the long run. The solution we are working on will be vehicle agnostic and has the potential to be scaled up as required. The importance of local manufacturing on Australian soil has never been so important,’ Dr Ong said. 


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