Last year, Teck embarked on a pilot project, demonstrating our commitment to finding more sustainable ways to operate by testing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a cleaner and more cost-effective potential fuel solution at Fording River Operations (FRO) in southeastern B.C.
The pilot marks the first use of LNG as a haul truck fuel at a Canadian mine site and will allow Teck to gain important knowledge, experience and data to evaluate LNG use, while reducing operating costs and emissions. Should the LNG and diesel hybrid fuel be expanded across Teck’s steelmaking coal operations, there is the potential to eliminate approximately 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and reduce fuel costs by more than $20 million annually.
How Does It Work?
To replace full diesel usage with a diesel/ LNG blend on four 830E and two 930E haul trucks at FRO, conversion technology was designed to allow for in-field retrofitting of diesel engines without the need to change or modify the original design. The new hardware, mounted externally on the engine, did not require modification of engine controls. Also, if a haul truck equipped with an LNG conversion kit runs out of LNG, it automatically switches over to diesel and continues to run.
FortisBC is a key partner in the project, transporting and supplying LNG to the mine site, providing financial support towards upgrading the truck maintenance shop, and supporting the implementation of the comprehensive safety program developed by FRO.
The People Behind The Pilot
But the driving factor behind successfully implementing this new pilot technology was what makes everything possible at Teck: our people.
"There was so much pride around the project and so many people wanted to be a part of it, which was a real testament to our employees’ commitment to our values," said Stephanie Cote, Project Lead, FRO, who managed the transition teams. "This pilot involved a year of work from our team here, as well as from people across the company, and the dedication from every person involved was what made it happen."
Liquefied natural gas (LNG), a clear, colourless, odourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive fuel, is the same as the natural gas delivered to your home but stored below -162°C. Since it must be kept at such cold temperatures, LNG is stored in double-walled, vacuum-insulated pressure vessels.
When spilled, LNG does not contaminate soil or water due to rapid evaporation, and when compared to diesel, LNG a less expensive, cleaner-burning fuel.
Safety First, Always
Safety is the first consideration in everything we do and the pilot was no different. Extensive safety procedures, policies and training were implemented before the pilot began. Operator safety features on the LNG trucks include automatic gas shut-off in the event of collision or rollover, excess gas flow protection and dedicated LNG fuel attendants. Shop safety additions included new methane detection and alarm systems, and mine rescue scenarios and training related to LNG are now in place.