Electricity is more important than ever on mine sites today, as more and more mining tools and equipment are electric. Electrical power is used for everything, from the drilling process to hauling and processing.
This list will look at two different types of electrical systems that can be applied to a variety of mining projects and sites, from surface mines to deep underground ones.
Mining Power Centers
Load Centers, or mining power centers, convert large amounts of electricity into lower voltage output. These centers are reliable and durable, meeting all safety requirements for mine use. They can accept inputs between 5 and 25 kilovolts and deliver outputs between 480 and 1,000 volts. Additionally, these devices are equipped with safety features such as protection from overcurrents, metering and monitoring, as well as a direct disconnect plug.
Benefits of Mining Power Centers:
- These centers can power multiple electric mining machines simultaneously, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.
- Mining power centers reduce operating costs by consolidating power delivery to a single center instead of servicing several pieces of equipment individually.
- Mine power centers enhance safety with features such as thermal overload protection, ground fault protection, and arc flash prevention.
- They are environmentally friendly, designed to reduce the amount of fuel needed to run mining equipment.
Electric Mining Equipment (EME)
Electric mining equipment refers to machinery and vehicles powered by electricity instead of fossil fuels like diesel. These machines use advanced technologies such as electric motors, mobile substations, and power electronics to perform various mining tasks, including excavation, transportation, processing, and ventilation.
Electric mining equipment has a bright future. Further advancements in battery capacity, power electronics, and charging infrastructure are expected as technology progresses. These improvements will result in increased operational hours, machine autonomy, and reduced charging time.
The integration of artificial intelligence and automation in electric mining equipment will improve safety, efficiency, and productivity. Intelligent systems can optimize energy use, monitor machine health, and perform predictive maintenance, leading to improved performance and cost savings.
Motor Control Centers
Motor control centers are used most often in mines with a large amount of high-powered machinery, such as fans, conveyors, and pumps. These control centers are usually equipped with soft-starting systems, PLC-controlled variable frequency drives, and across-the-line arrangements.
Switchgear is designed to protect mines with a high number of high-voltage circuits. Whether the mine is surface, underground, or substation-based, these high-voltage circuits are associated with a higher risk of electrocution. Switchgear can isolate and protect potentially dangerous systems, ensuring everyone’s safety and providing the mine with power.
Benefits of Switchgear:
- Safety: Switchgear protects electrical equipment against faults or overloads that can lead to fires, explosions, and other safety hazards.
- Switchgear improves reliability by isolating faults and preventing them from affecting other parts of the electrical system, reducing downtime and costs.
- Facilitates maintenance and repairs of electric mining equipment, reducing downtime and associated costs.
- Allows for greater flexibility in power generation and distribution.
- Helps reduce energy waste, resulting in cost savings for individuals and businesses.
This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker/SMC. For nearly a half a century, Becker Mining has been at the forefront of safety, producing the best ground monitor in the industry. Becker/SMC is the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical control systems. Most of the major innovations, design features and specialized electrical components have been developed by Becker/SMC.