CEFC targets greener resources sector with backing for innovative electric vehicle solution
6 October 2021
The CEFC is increasing its focus on decarbonising Australia’s resources sector, with a new investment to electrify mining operations. The $5 million CEFC investment in battery technology producer 3ME Technology will enable miners to replace diesel engines with cutting-edge battery electric systems, reducing their emissions and supporting safer, more efficient mine operations.
3ME Technology is a leading producer of modular and scalable battery systems, based in the NSW Hunter region. The CEFC investment, on behalf of the Australian Government, is part of a $20 million capital raise which included $15 million from the Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF).
3ME Technology’s innovative Bladevolt battery technology allows remote performance monitoring and control of battery pack cells, and is modular and powerful enough to transform a 20-tonne loader into a fully electric-powered vehicle.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “The decarbonisation of Australia’s resources sector is critical to our clean energy transition and electrification has an important part to play. Mining vehicles have unique needs and 3ME Technology’s battery system is a purpose-built solution that will enable the sector to capture more of the benefits of clean energy.
“3ME Technology has come up with a scalable solution that replaces carbon intensive diesel engines to enable mining vehicles to be powered by clean, green energy to drive down emissions. It also provides important health and safety benefits by removing diesel emissions to improve a mine’s air quality, and its bottom line, by saving on ventilation costs.”
The electrification of mining assets over the next five years through the installation of the 3ME Technology battery systems is estimated to abate 49,000 CO2-e on average per year and about 735,000 CO2-e over the lifetime of the assets.
Mining sector operations account for as much as seven per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.1 In Australia, direct emissions from the oil, gas, mining and metals processing industries, and indirect emissions from the energy powering their operations, contribute more than a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions.2
Electrification of the mining sector is one of the solutions, but efforts have been hampered by the lack of available equipment, high costs, certification challenges and technology uncertainties.3
Mining vehicles now suitable for retrofit or replacement with 3ME Technology-based electric systems include light vehicles, personnel carriers, load haul dump vehicles and integrated tool carriers. With a domestic market size of about 7,000 diesel vehicles operating in more than 400 mines across Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, there is a significant potential market for 3ME Technology’s systems.
3ME Technology CEO Justin Bain said: “In developing the Bladevolt battery system our focus has been on meeting the very high safety and operating demands of heavy vehicles used in Australia’s resources sector. With that challenge solved, and the investment backing of the CEFC, we are ready to scale up production and help the mining industry deliver better performance through lower emissions and improved operator safety.”
CEFC Executive Director, Western Australia and Resources Rob Wilson said: “Electrifying mining fleet vehicles is not just good for sustainability, it makes good business sense for mines in terms of operations, health, energy efficiency and information optimisation.
“A growing interest in clean supply chains means manufacturers are increasingly preferencing low carbon materials from suppliers. Replacing diesel engines with electric technology enables suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of their mobile and transport equipment.”
The CEFC invests to reduce carbon emissions across the economy, including in the resources and industrial sectors. It has supported the evolution of new industry sectors related to the clean energy transition, and also invests in established producers to improve sustainability in mining through energy efficient equipment, low emissions transport and renewable energy. CEFC resource sector investments include financing a 10MW solar plant and 6MW battery at the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine, investing in the renewable supply chain to help Pilbara Minerals meet growing demand for lithium, and supporting the establishment of a low emissions fertilizer industry with SO4 Limited.
The 3ME Technology investment aligns with the Australian Government Low Emissions Technology Statement by using emerging technologies to support emissions reduction from primary industries.
The transaction is the first investment by ABGF, which was established provide patient growth capital to Australian SMEs as a public-private partnership between the Australian Government, ANZ, NAB, CBA, Westpac, Macquarie, and HSBC.
1 McKinsey Sustainability, Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know, 28 January 2020
2 ClimateWorks Australia Net Zero Momentum Tracker Resources Sector December 2020
3 State of Play: Electrification 2020 by global consultants VCI
Media release, 2021