B.C. mine’s electrified trucks a Canadian first, with goal of net-zero GHG emissions

Click to play video: 'B.C. copper mine goes partly electric to cut emissions and fossil fuel use'
B.C. copper mine goes partly electric to cut emissions and fossil fuel use
A copper mine near Princeton, B.C., is dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and use of fossil fuels by partially electrifying its trucks. Paul Johnson reports on the first operation of its kind in Canada – Jun 10, 2022

A British Columbia mine has achieved a first-in-Canada milestone in efforts to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

In April, the Copper Mountain Mine, located near Princeton, B.C., went live with a new electric trolley-assist system for trucks hauling material out of its open pit works.

“It’s all fairly new still. But it’s performing quite well and quite exciting,” said Don Strickland, chief operating officer of Copper Mountain Mining Corp.

“Roughly 70 per cent of our (greenhouse gas emissions) are from haul truck diesel consumption. So trolley has a tremendous impact on reducing GHGs.”

To get a sense of the system, picture the trolley wires and poles used to electrically power buses in urban centres, but on a giant scale.

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The cables currently cover a one-kilometre stretch out of the pit, with seven trucks equipped to take advantage of the electricity.

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Walt Halipchuck, the company’s director of sustainable business development, spearheaded the initiative.

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A traditional haul truck, he said, burns about 35 litres of diesel fuel on the one-kilometre climb out of the mining pit. The new trolley-assisted trucks burn under one litre for the same trip.

“The GHGs are basically less than 1 kg of GHG emissions, compared to about 85kg of GHG CO2 with diesel,” he said.

The program is the first of its kind in B.C. and Canada, and the first time a similar system has been used in North America since the 1980s, according to the company.

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If the system works as planned, Copper Mountain has the ability to scale it up to cover a range of 3 to 4 km, allowing for an even greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

It could also become a model for other mining operations looking to get cleaner.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have a query from another mine around the world,” Halipchuck said.

“In my 35-year mining career, this was the hardest project and the most exciting I’ve had the opportunity to work on.”

The project was realized with support from BC Hydro and the provincial government’s Clean BC initiative.

The Copper Mountain Mine is aiming to cut its carbon emissions by 30 per cent, with a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2035.

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