Diesel to Electric - Creating a positive paradigm in underground ventilation and cooling

Author(s) W. Harris, S. Arsenault, C. McGuire, B. Rogers, D. Witow
The Australian Mine Ventilation Conference 2017


Mining deep ore bodies is increasingly becoming the norm as the "easy" ore bodies are depleted.  Deep ore mining requires significant ventilation and cooling infrastructure to not only meet regulatory requirements for air quality but also to achieve acceptable workplace temperatures with the higher strata rock temperatures and increased auto-compression.  At the same time, advances in battery equipment technology are turning the possibility of a batter powered fleet into reality.  The switch from a diesel fleet to a battery powered fleet offers several positive opportunities for the design and operation of a deep mine.

The potential to reduce ventilation and cooling requirements due to battery powered equipment results in significant cost savings for mine development an infrastructure.  Battery powered fleets are not subject to the same dilution requirements associated with diesel fleets thus allowing lower ventilation rates.  At the low ventilation volumes possible with a battery powered fleet, surface refrigeration plants are limited with respect to the amount of cooling that can be delivered to the workface.  Considerations for calculating the optimum air flow and cooling requirements are presented.  Considerations for locating the refrigeration plant are also discussed.  This paper presents these opportunities and considerations; including a case study comparing the ventilation and cooling system design with a diesel fleet versus battery fleet for a planned mine in Northern Ontario, Canada.