Liebherr truck with overhead line projected to save mine three million litres of diesel a year


At Bauma 2019, Liebherr and VA Erzberg sustainable mining centre concluded a development contract for a trolley assist system for the Liebherr T 236 100t mining truck. Since then the iron ore mine has been testing the diesel-electric truck in Austria. The truck was modified to operate with an overhead line connected through a current collector with bars on a 500m long test track. The groundbreaking ceremony for the extended 5km trolley line took place on September 29, 2020.

“Up to now, the transport of more than 13 Mt of rock per year has required enormous amounts of energy of around 4.5 million litres of diesel per year,” said a VA Erzberg spokesperson. “It will be three million litres less diesel in the future when the successors to the mechanical diesel trucks currently in use start operating at Erzberg.”

Successful test phase
Since signing the development contract for the trolley system in 2019, VA Erzberg has been testing the modified T 236 diesel-electric truck in its siderite iron ore mine in Eisenerz, Austria. The tests were conducted on a 500m long test segment.

The diesel-electric truck is equipped with a current collector with bars that connect the truck drive system to the overhead power lines on uphill haulage segments to drive with electric power. This innovative technology allows for tracks with small radiuses and even switchbacks. It also allows for a wider use of the haul road width aside of the catenary line in comparison with conventional pantograph solutions. This is of importance when the haul road conditions are not optimal due to weather conditions for example.

Josef Pappenreiter, technical director of VA Erzberg said, “There are only a few companies in the world that use overhead line technology for their trucks. However, we realized very quickly that the existing technology would not work for us. Our newly developed technology is different from everything previously available on the market in terms of both the overhead line system and the vehicle technology itself. This could only be developed with our cooperative and innovative partner Liebherr Mining in Colmar.”

T 236 on the track at VA Erzberg.

Extended track with new challenges
The new extended track for a fleet of six Liebherr T 236 will have a length of 5 km with the upper section at around 1,055 m above the sea level.

VA Erzberg will be observing how the weather conditions will affect the overhead lines during the winter in the Eisenerz Alps. Peter Schimek, project manager at the mine, commented: “Another challenge is the entire electrical engineering as all six T 236 can be connected to the overhead lines simultaneously in several places”.

Mining responsibly
When connected to the overhead power lines in trolley mode, the full power capacity of the electric wheel motors of the T 236 can be translated into speed on grade while the diesel engine idles, thus reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

In the long term, VA Erzberg expects to save around three million litres of diesel and 4,200t of CO₂ per year. Furthermore, the emission of nitrogen oxides and fine dust will also be reduced.


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Saul Wordsworth is deputy editor of the iVT brand - which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and Off-Highway Annual, as well as He is a keen cyclist and lives in north London.

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