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A Fossil Fuel Free Future?



German mining giant, Liebherr, has been under the pump to keep its ambitious promises to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since its Zero Emission Mining Program was announced in 2021.

The urgency to achieve carbon neutrality and the simultaneous increase in demand for decarbonisation of the mining industry were key drivers in the acceleration of their existing decarbonisation program. Not only did this set decarbonisation solutions in motion, but it also generated discussions and projects for potential future solutions at Liebherr.

Besides their efforts to decrease their carbon footprint across the whole business, Liebherr identified the operational phase of their machines is responsible for about 90 per cent of the GHG emissions. Thus, the business’ strategy consists of two main objectives. The first, to offer lower emissions solutions (like electric drive) on all excavators and trucks by 2022, was achieved on target. The second target is to provide fossil fuel-free mining equipment by 2030, which is currently in the works.

The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is devoted to investigating a variety of routes to reach its targets. Some of the said routes include adapting their equipment offerings, researching future zero emission technologies, and joining forces with both customers and industry leaders to develop solutions for the broader mining industry.

To guarantee their plans will be successful, Liebherr led a feasibility study that tested the capabilities of a range of zero emission technologies that have the potential to complement its current mining equipment.

Completed early last year, the study looked at four drivetrain technologies: battery electrification, including trolley solutions and the ability to undertake stationary or dynamic charging; ammonia internal combustion engines; methanol internal combustion engines; and fuel cell electrification utilising a hydrogen fuel cell-battery hybrid in a truck running on a trolley line.

Simulations of the four technologies were run as part of the study in numerous scenarios. Predictions for 2030 were also incorporated in the simulations to determine the practicality of the future technologies, such as forecasts of alternative fuel prices. 

“Thanks to the Liebherr Zero Emission Mining feasibility study, we were able to define a clear and strong zero emission strategy and roadmap,” said Dr.-Ing. Isabelle Ays, Head of Zero Emissions for Liebherr Mining. “We were able to define all zero emission projects which, if implemented, will lead us to certain success.”

The outcomes of the feasibility study, along with Liebherr’s deep understanding of its consumers and the mining industry as a whole, have laid the foundations for many zero emission mining projects, with a number of these already underway. These projects will aid in Liebherr reaching its goal of providing fossil fuel free mining equipment by 2030.


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