In Q2 2012, they said, Alpha Coal West became the first miner to operate haul trucks using natural gas, after initiating a pilot program involving three trucks with GFS, maker of the EVO-MT conversion system; last year, the company converted a fourth truck.

After 18 months of daily operation, Alpha Coal West representatives decided to proceed with the conversion of 12 additional trucks at Eagle Butte near Gillette. GFS will also convert the balance of Alpha Coal West’s Caterpillar 793 fleet at Eagle Butte to its NG+D natural gas plus diesel conversion system. The 12-truck conversion will phase in over time, with the last conversions scheduled for Q4 2014.

Along with the truck conversions, Alpha Coal West is installing permanent, full-scale LNG fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure to replace the temporary solution used during the pilot.

“There has been a lot of talk about using LNG in mining operations, but Alpha Coal West is actually doing it and we are proud our technology is enabling their transition,” GFS President Jason Green said.

GFS currently offers conversion kits for the mechanical drive Caterpillar 777 and 793 as well as the electrical drive Komatsu 830 and 930. Conversions for other truck models, according to company officials, are also under development. All the systems are available now and orders are being accepted for limited quantity 2014 delivery positions on all four systems.