The Elements of Innovation Discovered

EcoHoist mine tech draws ABB expertise

Metal Tech News - April 3, 2024

Global mine electrification and hoisting leader is helping accelerate the commercialization of an innovative underground ore hauling solution.

The team behind Economical Energy's innovative Viper underground gravity battery for renewable energy storage has now launched an equally innovative solution for the vertical transport of material out of underground mines.

The new Australian startup, EcoHoist, is on a mission to decarbonize underground mines by replacing the trucks that traditionally haul ore and other materials to the surface with a patent-pending continuous bucket elevator that can transport more tonnage at lower costs.

"EcoHoist offers an opportunity for mining leaders interested in integrating a low-cost solution into their operation," said Michael Short, business development engineer at EcoHoist. "We are now in early conversations with interested mining companies for collaboration projects to trial this innovative technology, aiming to increase production rates while reducing both operating costs and carbon footprint."

In addition to mining companies interested in piloting the technology, EcoHoist has attracted the interest of ABB Group, a global market leader in mine electrification, automation, and hoist systems.

"No matter the mine in Australia, the challenge is how to get ore out of the ground safely and efficiently with high availability in very remote locations," said Aaron Trueman, Australian business line manager for hoisting at ABB. "Hoists are a critical mine asset to achieve this, and novel approaches to ore haulage such as EcoHoist are what the industry needs to deliver minerals essential to modern technology."


Crushed ore in an underground mine being lifted to the surface with EcoHoist.

Innovative design

EcoHoist aims to improve traditional vertical hoisting systems by substantially reducing the size of the mine shafts needed to transport ore to the surface.


The EcoHoist bucket elevator operates inside two roughly one-meter (three feet) mine shafts.

This material hoisting system is a continuous chain of innovative buckets that lifts crushed material from depths of up to 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) through a small vertical shaft and dumps the material on the surface before the chain of buckets descends a second shaft.

The two 0.75- to 1.2-meter (2.5 to four feet) shafts needed for EcoHoist, depending on tonnage requirements, is substantially smaller than the five- to eight-meter (16 to 26 feet) mine shaft required for a traditional skip hoist system capable of moving the same volume.


The EcoHoist bucket design enables high throughput through small diameter mine shafts.

The conical geometry of the buckets allows them to be loaded quickly and symmetrically so that no support other than the central linkage is required for stability. As a result, there is no need for additional structural support or alignment rollers.

Additionally, the EcoHoist doesn't require an expensive headframe like a skip hoist.

This equates to lower capital costs to excavate the smaller shafts and install the hoisting infrastructure. And recent analysis indicates that the cost to operate EcoHoist is lower than running just one underground mine truck.

As a result, the company says their electric hoisting solution has the potential to lower the economic hurdles for underground mines, while at the same time increasing production and reducing emissions.

As a bonus, at the end of mining, the EcoHoist system can be converted into a Viper underground gravity battery for storing renewable energy.

ABB lends hoisting expertise

EcoHoist has piqued the interest of ABB, the company that supplied the first electric motor for a mine hoist in 1891. Over the ensuing 133 years, this Swedish company has continued to develop innovative vertical ore transport solutions and has commissioned more than 1,000 mine hoists around the world.


Björn Jonsson, global business line manager for hoisting at ABB (left) and EcoHoist Managing Director Matthew Forrest upon signing an MOU.

To help it stay on the cutting edge of ore lifting solutions, ABB has entered into a memorandum of understanding to lend its more than a century of ore haulage expertise to EcoHoist.

"ABB's proven track record [of] delivering electrical drive, automation and safety systems to the resources industry provides strong synergies with EcoHoist," said EcoHoist Managing Director Matthew Forrest.

This collaboration aims to expedite EcoHoist's delivery of a subscale demonstration of the technology.

EcoHoist hopes this collaboration will accelerate both the deployment of the pilot and commercial adoption of its innovative underground mine hoist.

The MOU "provides opportunities for further commercial arrangements," indicating that ABB could become more tied with EcoHoist as the technology advances.

"The mining industry globally is poised for a sustainability step-change and ABB is excited to work with EcoHoist in support of new technologies in this journey," said Björn Jonsson, global business line manager for hoisting at ABB.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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