In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Caterpillar agrees to develop all-electric mining machines for Nouveau Monde Graphite.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo will build two solar farms in the copper- and cobalt-rich southeast.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Caterpillar’s electric graphite mine machines

Use an EV to mine graphite, then put it in batteries to power electric vehicles mining the graphite.

Deerfield, Illinois-based construction and mining equipment giant Caterpillar and Montréal-based Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) are partnering so Caterpillar can fully power NMG’s Matawinie graphite mine (site pictured above) with all-electric machines by 2028. Matawinie is 100% owned by NMG and is located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, 150 km (93 miles) north of Montréal.

Caterpillar will be the exclusive equipment, technology and services provider – developing, testing, and producing Cat® “zero-emission machines.”

Neither company goes into specifics about the electric vehicles Caterpillar will develop.

NMG “is developing advanced carbon-neutral graphite-based material solutions for the growing lithium-ion and fuel cell markets.” As NMG CEO Éric Desaulniers points out in the video below:

The graphite extracted with this technology might actually power its battery pack.

Electrek last wrote about Caterpillar in 2019, when it developed an all-electric 26-ton excavator with a giant 300 kWh battery pack for construction company Veidekke in Norway.

DRC solar farms

Democratic Republic of Congo, which is Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s largest cobalt miner, signed power purchase agreements for the construction of two 100 megawatt solar farms in the southeast, which are copper- and cobalt-rich. Cobalt and copper are used in electric vehicle batteries.

State-owned utility Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL) made the agreements with developer Financing Access, which is partnered with investment fund Green Power Capital.

The solar farm in Kolwezi will cost $148 million, and the solar farm in Likasi will cost $157 million. Both are expected to break ground in March 2022 and come online in early 2023.

Jean-Bosco Kayombo Kayan, SNEL’s director general, said in a statement [via Reuters]:

With the signing of this agreement, we will contribute to securing the energy supply in the major urban and peri-urban centers.

Similarly, we will be able to ensure the supply of electricity to industrialists in the area, in particular the mining companies which represent the economic lungs of Haut-Katanga and Lualaba [provinces].

Reuters continues:

The two plants will provide the [DRC]’s grid with an average annual production of around 500 gigawatt hours, enough to supply electricity to more than 1.25 million people, SNEL said.

…Less than 10% of Congo’s roughly 90 million people have reliable access to electricity, and electricity shortages are a major impediment to building processing factories to add value to copper and cobalt exports.

Photo: Nouveau Monde Graphite

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