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Harnessing Energy from Underground Mine Winders: A Sustainable Innovation

For mining companies, enhancing sustainability often requires rethinking existing processes rather than just embarking on new projects. A prime example of this is the innovative approach taken by Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK), RUC Mining, and Energy Power Systems Australia (EPSA), who have collaborated to introduce a groundbreaking regenerative energy storage solution for mine hoists. These hoists, which function similarly to industrial elevators, lower equipment into mine shafts and lift minerals out.

Typically, lowering a mine hoist requires minimal energy, whereas raising it back up demands significant power. To address this, RUC Mining has leveraged Rockwell’s regenerative drives to develop a system that captures energy during the hoist’s descent and stores it for use during the ascent. Remarkably, this allows the hoists to operate entirely on the energy they generate and store themselves.

Sustainability and Operational Benefits

Over a period of 24 months, this innovative solution is projected to yield substantial sustainability benefits, including:

  • Saving approximately 1,427 kiloliters of diesel.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions by 3.85 tonnes.
  • Achieving a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power generation.

Greg Bell, RUC’s electrical manager, highlights additional advantages beyond sustainability. “The regenerative energy storage solution not only enhances sustainability but also lowers daily operating costs, reduces plant operating hours, and minimizes maintenance requirements. It also provides an added layer of redundancy to the power system, which was not achievable with passive components like load banks,” he explains.

Technological Implications

This regenerative approach exemplifies how rethinking traditional processes with advanced technology can lead to significant operational improvements and environmental benefits. The use of regenerative drives in mine hoists illustrates a practical application of energy efficiency principles, where energy conservation is achieved through the cyclical nature of the mining operation itself.

The integration of this technology could serve as a model for other industries relying on heavy machinery, suggesting that similar regenerative systems could be applied to cranes, elevators, and other mechanical systems where gravitational energy can be harnessed.

Rockwell Automation: A Leader in Industrial Innovation

Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation, continues to push the boundaries of what is possible. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs approximately 29,000 individuals worldwide. The company’s commitment to innovation and sustainability is evident in projects like the regenerative energy storage solution for mine hoists.

PartnerNetwork: Collaboration for Greater Impact

The success of this project underscores the value of collaboration within Rockwell Automation’s PartnerNetwork. By leveraging a global ecosystem of market-leading technology, support, and services, the PartnerNetwork enables comprehensive and integrated solutions that no single vendor could provide alone.

For more information about how Rockwell Automation is driving sustainability and productivity through innovative technologies, visit Rockwell Automation and learn more about the PartnerNetwork Program.


The regenerative energy storage solution for underground mine winders not only represents a significant advancement in sustainable mining operations but also sets a precedent for the broader application of regenerative technologies in various industrial sectors. By harnessing the potential of existing processes, companies can achieve greater sustainability and operational efficiency, paving the way for a more sustainable industrial future.


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