IN FOCUS Excellence Awards Interview

An exclusive interview with Max Luedtke from Mining Excellence Awards 2023 winner ABB

ABB is a technology and engineering company and a Category Award Winner for Business Expansion, Environmental, and Research and Development in the 2023 Mining Technology Excellence Awards

Mining Technology: Tell us in one line what your company is doing for the mining industry?

Max Luedtke: ABB draws on over 130 years of experience in the mining industry and is a pioneer in the integration of electrification, automation and digitalization for increased safety, sustainability and productivity.

Max Luedtke, Business Line Manager Mining, ABB

Mining Technology: What steps is the company taking to reduce the environmental impact of mining?

Max Luedtke: The energy transition starts in a mine. To hit net-zero emissions globally by 2050, we would require six times more mineral inputs in 2040. The challenge for the industry lies in having to reduce its emissions while ramping up production of critical minerals to fulfil the needs of modern lives. We know that the technologies exist today to put the industry in a place to succeed in many areas, including Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Some of the first capital investments come in the form of large pieces of equipment and associated systems – grinding mills and their drives, transportation such as conveyors and trolley lines, hoisting infrastructure, ventilation systems. Once in place, automation and electrification technologies, combined with digital solutions, are revolutionizing mining operations and driving sustainability from pit to port and in the world beyond.

ABB is driving a new global sustainability campaign named Real Progress to showcase the power of technology and expertise to accelerate sustainability while enhancing productivity. It is a rallying call to customers, partners and suppliers, inspiring them to harness technology leadership and the solutions that exist today to amplify their own impact. In the mining industry, Real Progress means helping customers through their energy transition, with electrification combined with world-class technologies for hoisting and grinding. The ABB eMine™ solution is one example, empowering them to convert fossil fuel reliant mines to all-electric. By automating all electrification solutions, customers can now monitor, control, and then reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in real time.

Caption. Credit: 

Our holistic eMine™ framework and approach is making the all-electric mine possible through technology solutions including ABB eMine™ Trolley System. In Sweden and Canada, it is operating in some of the world’s largest mines where diesel trucks are retrofitted to run on electric trolley lines while transporting ore. Copper Mountain Mining Corporation reported a 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions for the electrified trucks running on trolley, compared to the diesel-powered trucks, while they can also run at twice the speed. The industry is responsible for 4–7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the majority from diesel trucks in open pit mines. Replacing diesel fleets with alternative transport methods and introducing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is a priority.

In other areas of automation and electrification, ventilation in underground mines can account for more than 50% of operating expenses. Digitally enabled solution ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer provided fresh air for workers while delivering ventilation energy savings of 54% and air heating energy savings of 21% during first year of use with long-term customer Boliden. Mine ventilation costs decreased by 30%. Additionally, the world’s largest open pit copper, Chuquicamata in Chile, used ABB’s Gearless Conveyor Drive (GCD) technology to drive a 13km conveyor that covered an altitude difference of 1,200m. The equipment replaced the equivalent of 120 haulage trucks, reducing emissions by 70% compared with the diesel that would have been used for the same copper production volume, while extended mine operations by 40 years.

Our significant projects advancing mine electrification, making operations more efficient and reducing the sector’s carbon footprint include our electrification projects with partners Perenti in Australia, Talga in Sweden and Ioneer’s lithium project in the US.

Caption. Credit: 

Mining Technology: Is there anyone you would like to thank for your success?

Max Luedtke: No individual or company can navigate the mining industry’s challenges alone. Our customers, partners and suppliers also have sustainability at the top of their agendas. We are grateful for the constant willingness to work and think differently to make real progress together. We’re pleased to have frequently acted as an enabler of relationships so we can take the actions that are needed for investment decisions, planning and development, construction and installation, commissioning and operation to happen on a timeline that is in line with targets laid down by mining companies, industry bodies, national and international governments and organizations.

We have built trusted relationships over the many decades we’ve been involved in mining. As well as Perenti, we have signed agreements with OEMs and other partners including Hitachi Construction Machinery, Liebherr Mining Equipment, FLSmidth, Staubli and MEDATech to explore technologies for net zero emissions of heavy industrial machinery in mining and improve environmental performance, safety and productivity for the mining industry.

And of course, our people – great mines come from great minds focussed on the journey of creating sustainable mines. At ABB, our internal motto is ‘Great Minds, Great Mines’. What we mean by that is our belief that together, we are laying the foundations for a mining industry that meets all of the needs of society – economic and environmental.

Caption. Credit: 

Mining Technology: What does this Award mean to you?

Max Luedtke: We are extremely proud to be recognized as winners at the Mining Technology Excellence Awards for the second time. This Category Award for Business Expansion, Environmental, and Research and Development specifically recognises our efforts to evolve and expand the reach of mine electrification via our eMine™ solution. To be named as the company driving positive change at a time when we’re moving on from an industry crossroads in a clear direction means everything to our team and wider networks.

Contact information

ABB Ltd.