In November 2020, autonomous open pit haulage technology company EACON Mining began an autonomous driving project in the South Pit of energy company TBEA, a coal mine operated by its Tianchi Energy subsidiary in the northwest of China. The partners embarked on a journey of safe operations that has now surpassed 30 months. Building on a fleet of almost 40 existing trucks, EACON has now announced the upcoming deployment of 100 new hybrid trucks at the mine, marking a significant milestone and expansion.
EACON says it collaborated closely with the OEM to design and build these hybrid vehicles. EACON designed the EEA (Electrical and Electronic Architecture), the specifications for the range-extender, battery and motor systems, and the control strategies of trucks. Compared to conventional fuel vehicles with the same payload capacity, the hybrid vehicles can achieve fuel savings of over 20%.
Since its inception, the South Pit autonomy project has achieved a lot of progress. As of May 2023, the South Pit alone has seen a cumulative autonomous distance travelled of 1.09 million kilometres, EACON Mining says making it the longest accumulated mileage project in China. “We have seamlessly transitioned from single-fleet operations, to six autonomous mining truck fleets since June 2022. The increase in fleet size is still ongoing, and the increase enables stable increases in production capacity.”
The company also mentions diverse operational scenarios. “We have successfully adapted to various mining environments. Our solutions have proven their adaptability and reliability in challenging conditions, enduring extreme heatwaves, freezing winters, and harsh wind and sand environments. Through these rigorous on-site operations in South Pit, our autonomous mining trucks have demonstrated their capability to operate effectively in diverse and demanding scenarios.”
As the client TBEA increases its rated production capacity from 35 Mt/y to 40 Mt/y, EACON is also enhancing its production capacity through vehicle upsizing to meet their growing demands. The existing fleet is also currently undergoing an upgrade from conventional fuel vehicles with a capacity of 70 tons to extended-range hybrid haul trucks with a capacity of 100 tons.
“As we look to the future, EACON remains committed to innovation and efficiency in autonomous mining operations. By the end of July, we will introduce an additional 100 autonomous mining vehicles at the South Pit, marking a groundbreaking milestone of over 100 autonomous trucks deployed in a single mine.”