Twin Metals Minnesota commits to electric vehicle fleet for underground copper-nickel mine

By Chad Elmore13 August 2021

Twin Metals Minnesota said it will invest in the electrification of its mining and support vehicle fleets for proposed copper-nickel mine.

Twin Metals Minnesota said it build on its commitment to advancing the nation’s “most sustainable and technologically advanced underground mining project” by investing in the electrification of its mining and support vehicle fleets. The company said implementing battery electric vehicle technology is its latest effort to reduce its project footprint and further minimize environmental impacts.

“Today, we are committing to use the very technologies combatting climate change that require the metals our world-class, 21st century mine will produce,” said Twin Metals Chief Executive Officer Kelly Osborne. “We’re doubling down in our fight against climate change by both delivering the raw materials needed for our clean energy future and using the most innovative technologies to reduce the impacts of our own operations.”

Twin Metals mine A battery-electric MacLean BT3 boom truck as photographed in a mine by James Hodgins, Mining Industrial Photographer. Twin Metals said it has not yet established contracts with specific battery electric mining equipment vendors.

Converting the mine’s fleet from the previously proposed diesel equipment to electric vehicles will reportedly allow Twin Metals reduce its onsite greenhouse gas emissions (by 65%. Additional benefits noted by the miner include a decrease in power requirements for underground ventilation and heating; a reduction in maintenance needs; noise reduction; and improved worker safety and air quality.

“Battery electric mining equipment has advanced significantly since the technology was first introduced just over 10 years ago, and it will only continue to improve as Twin Metals gets closer to becoming operational,” said Glenn Barr, Twin Metals vice president of Project Development. “This is an incredibly exciting time for the mining industry as we work to advance cutting-edge technologies that can greatly reduce our industry’s footprint, and we’re proud that Twin Metals is at the forefront of this shift toward sustainable, innovative mining practices.”

Twin Metals is expected to be the first mine in the state of Minnesota to adopt battery electric vehicle technology. The planned electric vehicle fleet represents nearly 100% of the mining and large support vehicles for the project. Twin Metals has not yet established contracts with specific battery electric mining equipment vendors.

Today’s news follows the company’s 2019 announcement that it was shifting to dry stack tailings management in its proposed design. Dry stack and filtered tailings technology remove the need for a dam and is the most sustainable method used to store tailings. Dry stack was endorsed in a 2020 study.

For more than a decade, Twin Metals has worked to develop and propose an underground mining project near Babbitt and Ely, Minn.

Twin Metals submitted its formal mine plan to state and federal regulators in late 2019 and is currently undergoing a rigorous, multi-year environmental review process. The Duluth Complex, where Twin Metals plans to mine, is said to be the world’s largest undeveloped copper-nickel deposit containing critical minerals for the proposed a green energy future.

Antofagasta, Twin Metals’ parent company, has led the industry in setting ambitious goals for sustainable mining practices. All four of Antofagasta’s mining operations in Chile will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2022. The company has also reduced its GHG emissions by more than 580,000 tons since 2018 and has a new goal to decrease those emissions by an additional 30% between now and 2025.

Antofagasta recently joined a global initiative called the Charge On Innovation Challenge, which is aimed at the development of solutions for large-scale haul truck electrification systems to help the mining sector reduce diesel fuel consumption and cut emissions from surface mine operations.

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