Agnico Eagles Mines, one of the mining companies involved in the EVMO project, was an early adopter of BEVs, with the company introducing battery electric scoops at its Macassa mine in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Courtesy of Agnico Eagle Mines.

A new project developed by Zero Nexus, a Canadian research company focused on sustainable mining solutions, was officially announced on May 29 at the BEV In Depth: Mines to Mobility conference in Sudbury. The Electric Vehicles in Mining Operations (EVMO) project aims to identify the challenges and opportunities that come with the widespread adoption of fleets of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the mining industry and offer extensive guidance on how to operationalize BEVs in the industry. The EVMO project recently received $35,325 from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through the organization's education and awareness funding program, as well as funding from the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA). 

David Francis Lyon, the founder and president of Zero Nexus, and Edward Fagan, the company’s associate partner, put together a steering committee for the project with a number of partners that include New Gold Inc., Agnico Eagle Mines and Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, along with expertise from MICA and the NRCan-CanmetMINING group. CanmetMINING is a research and development centre focused on advancing innovation and sustainability in Canada’s critical minerals sector 

The goal of the project is to create a comprehensive how-to-adopt a BEV fleet’ playbook,Lyon explained in an email to CIM Magazine. The participating mines are among the global leaders in BEV adoption, and the lessons and insights generated by this collaborative effort are expected to be unique and far more comprehensive than what any single mine could achieve independently. Lyon added that the project will also incorporate qualitative elements as BEV adoption can be considered to be both a technical and behavioral challenge.  

Fagan noted in an interview with CIM Magazine that these industry leaders have played an integral role in guiding the research for the EVMO project, by identifying challenges to BEV adoption, and organizing the research into a set of documents, which includes best practice guides and research reports, that will be shared with the general public in order to drive forward innovation and the advancement of BEVs in mining. In addition to the steering committee, the project will also include stakeholder engagement, research and on-site evaluations.  

The project came together somewhere between six months and a year ago through a number of different discussions we’ve had with different mining companies and with equipment manufacturers about the challenges in scaling up from single vehicle trials to full fleets, said Fagan. 

Some of the discussions that come to mind are how you can manage charging BEVs, how you can manage the distribution of energy in the system, some challenges that companies have with troubleshooting and how they set up those trials in the first place, and the organizational side of things, such as compliance and safety. 

The EVMO project will build off of a previous qualitative research project from Zero Nexus that was funded by the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), which aids small to medium-sized Canadian businesses in developing and commercializing innovative technologies by offering guidance and financial assistance. The research project provided the company a chance to conduct both virtual and in-person interviews with 100 individuals in the mining industry about challenges they were facing with adopting BEVs. Some of the interviewees included BEV machine operators, shift managers and mine planners. [These initial discussions] are what led to identifying specific challenges that we’re tackling with the EVMO project, said Fagan. 

Fagan explained that this project will benefit different stakeholders in the industry, such as mining companies and original equipment manufacturers, especially by providing knowledge in the form of case studies. We also hope that the outputs of the project will be useful to the engineering community and maybe the education community, too, he said.  

Canada is well placed globally in terms of the number of vehicles being adopted. Now is a great time to identify what perspectives and best practices are coming from companies on the leading edge and to share that with the world. 

The end date for the project is June 2025. Updates including reports and other information related to the EVMO project will be shared regularly through Zero Nexus’ website, and those who are interested in the project are encouraged to follow the progress through the company’s newsletter.