Who says battery-powered vehicles can’t have grunt?

The Hunter is full of quiet achievers. Every day people in our community are working hard to diversify and innovate in their industry but rarely making a big song and dance about it.

10 November 2020

Craig Barnett BME Managing Director holding the Million Jobs Plan and Richard Carroll BME R&D Manager

Craig Barnett BME Managing Director holding the Million Jobs Plan and Richard Carroll BME R&D Manager

The Hunter is full of quiet achievers. Every day people in our community are working hard to diversify and innovate in their industry but rarely making a big song and dance about it.

Take Craig Barnett and Sarah Gow from mining equipment manufacturer BME in Hexham. Craig was trained as a diesel fitter and spent his life working with diesel vehicles and heavy mining equipment. But recently BME have collaborated with a local battery technology company to retrofit a mining vehicle with batteries that meets industry standards.

This vehicle is not for the faint hearted. The TRITEV is a 20 tonne Volvo loader used in hard rock underground mining. After the battery retrofit, it remains exactly the same to drive with no retraining required for the driver. It is cheaper to run than a conventional machine and the performance is equivalent to or even better than diesel.

Battery powered mining vehicles have the potential to massively improve the occupational health and safety of the underground mining environment. Diesel engines create a lot of noise making industrial deafness – which is a permanent condition – a major risk for underground miners. Diesel particulate matter has been classified as a carcinogen and the fumes are extremely toxic, with ventilation a major operational cost in any underground mine.

By contrast, a retrofitted TRITEV is quiet, cool and clean. It operates with significantly reduced noise and heat and a total elimination of diesel fumes.

The most exciting part is that these batteries were engineered and manufactured right here in the Hunter by 3ME, located in Cardiff.  BME and 3ME were funded by the METS Industry Growth Centre and collaborated to make it happen. Craig has worked with diesel engines and mining vehicles all his life. He understands exactly how tough the mining environment is and he is confident the TRITEV is up to the task.

Now they have done the TRITEV, BME has started work on a personnel carrier. BME is part of a group of five companies that employs 300 local people who have been trained to work on diesel vehicles. They understand that batteries are the future and they are fostering innovation and supporting their workforce to develop new and relevant skills.

Like bees in a hive, Hunter people are working, collaborating and innovating to maintain our position as a global energy hub in a new era. We are adapting and changing with the times, and it’s a privilege to be a part of this.

Sam Mella is the Hunter Engagement Lead at Beyond Zero Emissions. Listen to her interview on ABC Newcastle’s drive time program with Paul Turton (at the 45:20 mark) to learn more about the TRITEV and the Hunter Jobs Alliance.

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