Fuel cell versus diesel loader operation: Cost-benefit analysis study

Abstract Over the last few years, a number of research projects to prove out the concept of applying fuel cell technology to underground mining vehicles have been managed by Vehicle Projects LLC for the Fuelcell Propulsion Institute. These have been carried out with the support of mining companies, trade unions, regulatory agencies, equipment manufacturers, research laboratories, technology developers, universities, and consultants.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is clean and produces only water and electricity. This yields several advantages in the health area (by eliminating diesel emissions and reducing noise generation) in supporting better mine vehicle automation and in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emission production.
A study on the economic advantages of using hydrogen fuel cell vehicles was initiated to quantify the costs associated with operating fuel cell vehicles and diesel vehicles. A complete and detailed analysis of operational and capital cost elements was undertaken in order to provide the mining industry with factual information in considering the changeover from one technology to another.
This paper outlines the results of the investigations defining the costs/benefits associated with capital purchases, operations (electrical/diesel, mine air heating fuel, ventilation, openings, surface and underground infrastructure, maintenance, labour, etc.), delivery of energy, regulatory obligations, and mine production. Considerations are given to the type and size of a mining operation, the depth, and location in North America.
With respect to relative economics, the area where fuel cells are most beneficial is in reducing the operating cost of the primary ventilation system that provides the bulk flow through the mine. This is due to a cubic relationship between flow and power. The next best area is in mine heating, which is linearly related to airflow. The area least affected is in auxiliary fan power consumption. The reasons for this are twofold: first, it would be very expensive for a mine to totally replace its auxiliary fan inventory with smaller units, whereas primary fans are normally flexible in their delivery; and second, for blast fume clearance, a high-capacity flow may need to be retained.
However, even in those mines where the ventilation economic advantage is relatively small, it must be remembered that fuel cells will be beneficial to the health of the underground workforce through the removal/reduction of diesel contaminants, especially diesel particulate matter (DPM), highly suspected as a carcinogen. As DPM regulations are expected to become very strict in the near term, the current operating procedures will have to be modified to incorporate higher ventilation and larger capital and operating costs in control measures for diesels. Fuel cell power would be the clean solution of choice, also beneficial in reducing equipment noise and heat production levels.
It will also decrease a mine’s attributable GHG emissions through reduced combustion of diesel fuel and fuel to heat the mine air (26% of the primary Canadian mining extraction sector emissions) given no diesel vehicle operating underground.
While ventilation savings are clearly an advantage, capital costs are higher for fuel cell vehicles at this time. Considerable examination will be required on a case-by-case basis to see if the operating savings will be sufficient to offset equipment capitalization costs. With the intensification of manufacturing, it is anticipated that the high cost of fuel cells will be reduced significantly in the near future.
Keywords: Fuel cell, Diesel, Costs, Benefits
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Summary: Environmental desulphurization is an attractive alternative for the management of acid generating tailings. Sulphide bulk flotation is the most commonly used method to produce desulphurized tailings, as shown from many previous works. This process can reduce the volume of problematic tailings to manage by making a sulphide fraction concentrate. The desulphurized tailings can then be used as construction material for an engineered cover to prevent acid mine drainage.
Results from different...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): D. Bois, M. Benzaazoua, B. Bussière, M. Kongolo, P. Poirier
Keywords: Desulphurized tailings, Acid mine drainage, Dry cover, Water covers, Paste backfill.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: Traditional planning of mines and scheduling of production is largely based upon the modelling of ore grade. It is known, however, that grade is not the only characteristic that can be taken into account to maximize performance at the processing plant and efficiency of tailings disposal. Ore processing plants respond well to feed that is consistent over time and that has known physico-chemical characteristics, which can be used to improve plant design and performance through the management of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): A. Richmond, R. Dimitrakopoulos
Keywords: Stochastic spatial simulation, Ore texture, Ore reserves.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: The 20th century saw changes in the mining and metallurgical industry not only technically but also in social and environmental expectations. As projects become larger their visibility raises concerns among communities of interest, and mining companies must adopt a transparent and open approach to assure success. An equally important task is to anticipate the standards that will be required to meet expectations.
Early mines left waste and spoil piles around the surface and the images of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): D.J. Kemp
Keywords: Sustainable standards, Sustainable development, Environmental awareness, Corporate attitudes, Community attitudes.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: In 1997, a group of Canadian mining companies met to review the Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) program and to consider future activities. They concluded that Canadian industry and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) should fund a small secretariat in Ottawa to support technology transfer in Canada, and that it was important for industry to continue the momentum of MEND on an international scale.
The need for the International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP) was strongly endorsed by...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): R. Gallinger, B. Kelley
Keywords: International Network for Acid Prevention,Waste management, Acid drainage.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell locomotive was successfully demonstrated at the Placer Dome Campbell Mine in Balmertown, Ontario. This demonstration was a success based on the following criteria:

safely demonstrated the operation of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell locomotive in a production situation;
determined the regulatory and operational requirements for future fuel cell mining equipment;
determined technical and soft issues critical for future fuel cell applications; and
determined...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): F.C. Delabbio, D. Eastick, C. Graves, D. Sprott, T. MacKinnon, M.C. Bétournay
Keywords: Fuel cell, Risk management, Regulatory compliance, Campbell Mine.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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Summary: The Las Cristinas deposit in Venezuela contains proven and probable reserves of 12.8 million ounces of gold at a grade of 1.20 g/t. The deposit comprises fully oxidized saprolite (SAPO) overlying a layer of sulphide-enriched saprolite (SAPS) which lies above carbonate- leached bedrock (CLB) and carbonate stable or un-leached bedrock (CSB). Gold occurs at a similar concentration in all lithological units.
Virtually all of the copper originally in SAPO has been leached out and deposited in the...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): J.R. Goode, K.G. Thomas
Keywords: Las Cristinas, Gold, Saprolite, Gravity, Leaching, CIL, Thickening, Rheology, Natural degradation, Cyanide destruction, Plant design.
Issue: 1087
Volume: 98
Year: 2005
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