Sandvik launches zero-emission battery-electric mining truck in Africa

Original equipment manufacturer Sandvik officially unveiled its 65t capacity zero-emission battery electric truck, the Sandvik TH665B, at Electra Mining Africa in Johannesburg on September 5.

The group notes that it is the world’s largest capacity battery-electric truck for underground mining.

It will allow miners to have a fleet of zero-emission vehicles, allow for a greater workload per ton and generate better power on a slope.

Testing on the machine is underway and nearly complete in Australia.

Speaking at the launch, Sandvik Vice President Jakob Rutqvist said Australia and Africa would likely be the biggest markets for this machine.

He added that Africa was particularly suitable for electrification, as diesel was relatively expensive in many countries on the continent and Africa was home to many hot, deep and ventilated mines, which reinforced the analysis of profitability of battery electric vehicles (BEV).

Rutqvist explained that the truck, when operating, produced about 85% less heat than a diesel truck, which helped considerably if the mine was under ventilation constraints.

He said Sandvik was at the forefront of electrification in the underground mining industry, ready to meet the needs of many companies’ net zero commitments over the next few years.

He pointed out that in an average underground mine, 50% to 60% of the emissions came from the mobile fleet, with considerable amounts from the primary transportation equipment; therefore, electrifying that made a big difference.

“Sandvik is very proud to present the largest underground truck in the world and very excited to do so in Africa,” said Rutqvist.

He pointed out that the truck would remove between 1 t and 2 t per day of carbon dioxide (CO2) when in operation; therefore, the impact would be “fairly significant”.

Regarding the truck’s design principles, Rutqvist said Sandvik adhered to three main principles when developing the truck.

First, it was aligned with its mandate to “rethink the machine, not the mine”.

The group did not want to introduce technology that would require customers to rethink their operations and undertake significant infrastructure investments. In that vein, Rutqvist said the truck could be very easily implemented into an existing operation and maintained with existing infrastructure.

In addition, the machine has battery swap technology. It does not require any large fixed infrastructure to turn on, and the operator would not need to exit the cab to handle the battery. On the contrary, the battery exchange is fully automated.

There is also a charging configuration for this machine, which is 100% mobile and does not require additional ventilation on the mine, with generally sufficient existing capacity, Rutqvist explained.

When it comes to battery-swap technology, one battery is on the machine while it’s running, while the other is charging, which Rutqvist says reduces peak strain on the grid.

He pointed out that when the machine was doing very heavy work, on a steep ramp, it had about an hour and a half to two hours of battery life. Working at a level that doesn’t require as much power, would allow about two and a half to three hours before needing battery replacement, which takes about five minutes.

The second design principle is that the truck should be suitable for mining. The battery is rugged with safe chemistry, Rutqvist said, adding that the machine and battery were designed to handle the terrain of mining operations.

The battery was also specifically designed for mining and mining needs, Rutqvist said, rather than repurposing other battery technologies. Additionally, the machine and battery have been designed with serviceability in mind, with easy access, to enable maintenance on the mine.

The final design principle was to “expect more,” Rutqvist emphasized.

“We haven’t compromised anything, we don’t expect customers to accept lower performance just because you want to reduce emissions,” he said.

Therefore, he pointed out that it was an extremely capable machine, generating around 20% more power than a conventional machine, which translates to speeds around 20% to 30% faster.

The machine was also able to slow down and accelerate quickly, which meant the overall motion or throughput in the mine increased dramatically, Rutqvist noted.

Additionally, he said operator comfort was not compromised either.

The machine also has technologies such as collision avoidance systems and digital prompts. In addition, Rutqvist noted that data collected from the machine would be analyzed by the group’s newly acquired battery analysis company, which would provide insight into things like performance and duration in the future. battery life.

“We don’t compromise on performance, but we’re building this for real application, for real-world use,” enthused Rutqvist.

Meanwhile, miner South Deep would take delivery of the first Sandvik LH518B later this year.

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