Opibus sets sights on building electric mining vehicles


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Opibus sets sights on building electric mining vehicles


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Opibus electric engineer Ashley Mutheu (left), mechanical engineer Benjamin Maina and electric engineer Beatrice Wanjiru during the interview at the firm in Embakasi, Nairobi on March 29, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The company says the vehicle will cut mining operational costs by up to 60 percent, helping miners to convert their fleet of vehicles to electric cars without having to invest in new vehicles.
  • Opibus has been converting fuel-powered engine vehicles into electric cars, as well as producing electric motorcycles, energy systems and batteries.
  • The manufacturers are riding on technological advancements, especially in battery technology where they are now producing units that carry charge for longer distances.

Electric vehicle solutions company Opibus has introduced an electric mining vehicle, building on its business of converting diesel and petrol powered engines.

The company says the vehicle will cut mining operational costs by up to 60 percent, helping miners to convert their fleet of vehicles to electric cars without having to invest in new vehicles.

It will be the first Africa-made electric mining vehicle.

The company hopes to build on the increased adoption of electric personal cars and public service vehicles in the country.

“This vehicle is a game changer for the mining industry. It makes it possible to operate a mine completely without the need for fossil fuel infrastructure. Even more so if solar panels and battery backup systems are combined with the electric vehicles,” said Lucy Mugala, research and development engineer Opibus.

“It makes it possible to lower operational costs by almost 60 percent.”

Opibus has been converting fuel-powered engine vehicles into electric cars, as well as producing electric motorcycles, energy systems and batteries.

The firm has also been focused on converting the game-drive vehicles at its premises in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.

Opibus said the electric mining vehicle system will run on 120 kW power, has a speed of more than 80 kilometres per hour, with a battery size of 38 or 58 kWh which can run between 90km to 140km respectively.

“The first step in the conversion process is to service the vehicle to ensure that the body and chassis is in prime condition if it is a used vehicle. Secondly, the fuel tank and engine get removed to leave space for the new electric powertrain. These components can be sold or kept depending on preference,” the firm added.

Charging can be done on the grid or completely off-grid with solar panels or other systems.

“This vehicle enables mining to become more sustainable, there is also no need for expensive ventilation underground as there are no emissions. Electric vehicles make the working environment safer as the risk of flammable fuels is completely gone,” said the firm.

The use of electric powered vehicles is being promoted to lower energy costs.

The manufacturers are riding on technological advancements, especially in battery technology where they are now producing units that carry charge for longer distances.

Kenya’s grid is already powered by a generation mix that is 93 percent renewable.

However, experts have said that the transition to electric vehicles is still a challenge due to lack of infrastructure, especially the charging points.

“The country is recording over production of energy, which can go straight to electric mobility instead of importing fuel,” Albin Wilson, chief marketing officer, Opibus, said in a past interview.

He added that the government needs to adopt aggressive policies to increase the use of electric cars and manufacture of the vehicles in the country such as reduced cost of energy, taxes and infrastructure like in Rwanda.



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