Home Energy system The five most innovative mining and agricultural companies of 2021

The five most innovative mining and agricultural companies of 2021


Australian miners are currently using large diesel-powered machines to operate underground mines that produce diesel particulate matter, a Class 1 carcinogen.

Bladevolt from 3ME Technology is a high performance lithium-ion / polymer battery system designed to power heavy electric vehicles and improve safety in underground mines.

The Bladevolt battery system will be the world’s first large-format lithium-ion battery to be certified as “intrinsically safe,” meaning the design has eliminated the risk of lithium-ion battery fire.

Bladevolt delivers clean technology for the highest, deepest and most challenging efforts, says Steven Lawn, Director of Growth at 3ME Technology.

“Heavy industry needs to decarbonize and a smart grid battery like Bladevolt represents the future of battery power,” he says.


Innovation: result-oriented design

Number of employees: 500+

The mining industry is being redesigned more than ever. New technologies, including robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things, are transforming every element of the mining value chain, delivering significant advancements in safety, productivity and results environmental issues at sites around the world.

Orica’s Design for Outcome manages data for consistent results.

One example is the nature of blasting which generally produces variable results. And as the first step in the rock breaking process, variable explosion fragmentation negatively affects downstream productivity and overall mining costs.

Orica’s Design for Outcome (DfO) draws lessons from data collected during a mining operation to associate the properties of rock and ore with the blasting energy applied and the resulting results. A predictive algorithm is then applied to new data sets to automatically generate “blastability” domains.

Loading rules are then configured against domains to produce custom hole-by-hole blasting designs.

The result – focused and consistent results. With blasting accounting for 5% of operating costs and affecting up to 85% of downstream costs, the solution offers significant advantages in terms of productivity, efficiency and costs.


Innovation: Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project

Number of employees: 100-499

EDL’s Agnew Hybrid Renewable project offers a solution to the energy trilemma (balancing energy reliability, affordability and sustainability).

It is Australia’s largest renewable energy hybrid micro-grid, the first in the country to use large-scale wind generation at a mine site.

EDL delivered this innovative hybrid renewable energy system under a 10-year agreement with Gold Fields. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $ 13.5 million in funding for the project through ARENA’s Advancing Renewables program.

Agnew’s microgrid consists of four key components managed by an advanced control system. These include five wind turbines of 110 m, each with a rotor diameter of 140 m, delivering 18 MW; a solar farm with 10,710 panels generating 4 MW; a 13 MW / 4 MWh battery system and an off-grid 21 MW gas / diesel power plant.

The micro-grid, installed at the Gold Fields Agnew gold mine in Washington State, addresses the limitations of different production technologies, integrating renewable and thermal energy production with energy storage to maximize benefits when it comes to sustainability. The micro-grid provided 99.99% reliability while significantly reducing Gold Fields’ carbon footprint.


Innovation: Australia’s most connected mine

Number of employees: 500+

ABB created Australia’s most connected mine to harness machine learning capabilities to improve mine productivity.

ABB has developed a plug-and-play SaaS operating system for mining that brings together multiple mining technology systems along with historical data that ABB has collected over six decades to predict problems before they happen. do occur, adapt to unforeseen events and ultimately minimize downtime.

SA electrical networks

Innovation: the grid of the future network

Number of employees: 500+

SA Power Networks’ “future network network” offers more flexibility within export limits that reflect the real-time capacity of the network.

By providing better access to grid capacity, SA Power Networks will increase the opportunity for virtual power plants, and potentially solar PV customers in the future, to participate in markets.

South Australia is leading the way in many ways as the country’s energy system is rapidly adopting Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles.

Rooftop solar adoption in South Australia is already among the highest in the world, meaning energy consumers play a key role in achieving the state’s goal of 100 % net renewable energy by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050.

SA Power Networks’ electricity distribution network is at the heart of the State’s energy transition and the public service is developing innovative solutions to meet the changing energy needs of our customers, while ensuring accessibility, safety and the continued reliability of the electricity supply.

3ME’s winning strategy

It’s been a good few weeks for Hunter-based clean energy company 3ME Technology Holdings.

In addition to taking first place on AFR BOSS’s list of this year’s most innovative companies in agriculture and mining, the company also secured a $ 15 million investment from the Australian Business Growth Fund.

Regarding funding, CEO Justin Bain recently told the Financial analysis the investment came at the right time as the company was overwhelmed by customer demand under pressure to decarbonize.

Steven Lawn and Justin Bain from 3ME

These customers include some of the country’s largest miners and what 3ME is helping them with in their energy transition with the electrification of rugged underground mining vehicles with their scalable lithium-ion battery system, which can be fitted to powerful diesel engines.

Chief Growth Officer Steve Lawn calls the company’s main innovation, Bladevolt, “Tesla for tough off-road vehicles.”

Lawn says the company’s journey started quite simply, when the original founder was looking for an alternative to high diesel prices and thinking about electrification as a solution more than 15 years ago.

Fast forward to 2016 and a new team of owners realized there was potential in the electrification of underground mining equipment.

This didn’t just mean transferring an electric road car to a mine, so the 3ME team set out to create something oddly robust because the existing batteries weren’t suitable.

The result is the Bladevolt. It basically consists of a series of blades in a hard battery case. Each blade is interchangeable and contains two cells and a printed circuit. If the blades are damaged during use inside a hard-walled mine, the blades can be exchanged and replaced.

Each blade is also monitored remotely by the 3ME team. So when it’s time for maintenance, they can be replaced and if an unwanted event occurs, 3ME can identify the problem. The blade can then be removed by virtually anyone, replaced, and the damaged blade sent to 3ME for service.

“And if one of the cells starts to tend to become a critical problem, the monitoring system predicts the problem and stops the vehicle. If the vehicle falls into a mine at that point, there will be enough redundant energy left so that it can be brought back to base, ”Lawn said.

For Lawn, this monitoring of potential critical issues is not only excellent from a maintenance standpoint but also for operator safety and also ensures that the mine does not lose the entire battery.

“Monitoring can be done by 3ME or by the organization in their operating room,” Lawn explains.

Lawn says each Bladevolt battery is scalable as well, so the blade stack can grow and shrink depending on the size of the vehicle.

As for the culture of innovation within the company, Lawn says it’s embedded in everything she does.

“The way we design each idea is pressure tested down the chain at every level,” says Lawn.

This channel consists of a “great team of uber-nerds based on the disciplines of mechanical and electrical engineering who work with our technicians who are basically cardiac surgeons for electronics, except these surgeons are sitting there with headphones on. with screaming heavy metal music “.

“They do a meticulous, complex job that machines can’t do,” Lawn says.

Beyond engineers and technicians, Lawn says the team also includes tradespeople who are part of the ideation process. Thus, when an innovative project is designed, it is tested throughout the company.

“It’s a great feedback loop because everyone is involved. If it crosses all the barriers, it becomes a reality, ”Lawn says.

A global innovation is the charging of batteries at the mine on the 1000 volt chargers already in use in most mines so that operators do not have to upgrade the existing kit to use the batteries when they connect to the infrastructure. existing.

Another innovation is that after they have been in use for eight to 10 years in a vehicle, they can be converted and used for network storage. storage capacity “.

Lawn says 3ME’s name reflects the three mining, military and marine industries in which the company hopes to lead the electrification of assets. More recently, the company also added the aerospace industry as a clean energy supplier to Australia’s brand new space manufacturing network.

Looking ahead, he says the company is working on a hydrogen electric battery integration and will build more on its work as one of the founding members of the Electric Mine Consortium.

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