Tag Archives: Artisan

Vale’s Canada mines set for more battery-electric vehicle trials

By the end of 2020, Vale hopes to have upward of 20 battery-powered vehicles operating within its North Atlantic operations, according to Alex Mulloy, Mining Engineer within Vale’s Base Metals Technology and Innovation division.

The plan is for the electric vehicles (EVs) to be operating on a trial basis at its Creighton, Coleman, Copper Cliff, Garson and Thompson mines by the end of the year, with the company having already made significant headway on achieving this goal.

Vale is aligned with the Paris climate-change agreement, and committed to being carbon neutral by 2050, with a 33% cut in greenhouse gas emissions planned across the company by 2030. This is part of a strategy to invest at least $2 billion to combat climate change, which includes the use of battery-electric vehicles.

Vale has already tested Rokion’s battery-powered personnel carriers/utility vehicles at Creighton, while an Epiroc ST7 battery-powered vehicle and Artisan Z40 haul truck have been trialled underground at Coleman.

Mulloy said the green vehicles are going to be evaluated with feedback from operations, as well as operating data, to help Vale understand how they perform in terms of reliability, functionality and the benefits they can offer our people and the business.

The benefits from trials so far include:

  • Health and safety improvements for our employees underground: EVs are much quieter than diesel vehicles and produce less heat and zero exhaust emissions. “From an operator comfort perspective, EVs are certainly an improvement,” Mulloy said;
  • Cost savings: EVs can reduce underground ventilation demands and the associated operating and capital expenditure; and
  • Environmental benefits: EVs contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“EVs certainly complement the efforts of the business in terms of greenhouse gas and carbon reduction,” Mulloy said. “It’s a great technology. Not only does it enable operational benefit and improvement, it also contributes to our greater goals of reducing our emissions and the impact on the environment.”

Natalie Kari, Principal Engineer, Strategic Electric Vehicle Implementation, said: “Exhaust emissions from diesel engines are one of the larger contributors to environmental pollution. EVs are an opportunity to increase safety by improving operating conditions and creating a safe work environment. Reducing noise, vibrations, heat, greenhouse gas emissions, and diesel particulate matter, while improving air quality, contributes to creating an attractive work environment for top talent.

“With increased challenging mine conditions at depth, EVs also provide an opportunity to sustain productivity by enabling mines to produce in areas that otherwise may not be feasible without these benefits, contributing towards mining for years to come.”

These trials will help steer business investment decisions in future years, according to Mulloy.

“Over the coming months, a number of large prime mover vehicles will be delivered,” he said. “When those vehicles arrive, it will be an exciting step in the journey because most of the question marks around the performance of EVs relate to the large vehicles, so that’ll be a chance for us to really put this technology to the test.”

Kari added: “Our company’s next major steps include collaborating with internal and external industry stakeholders towards safe implementation, comprehensive trial data collection and validation of a robust model towards a final approved five-year implementation strategy. With any new technology, investment in our people will be a priority to ensure they are equipped with the tools necessary for successful operation and maintenance.

“It is thrilling to be a part of leading this effort in a time of increased innovation and environmental awareness,” she continued. “The movement from traditional diesel to electric vehicle brings a feeling of social pride in creating a healthier workplace.”

This is an edited version of an original story from Vale, which can be found here.

Barrick continues to leverage automation and battery-electric technology

Barrick Gold, despite numerous COVID-19-related hurdles, made progress on the innovation front in the March quarter, with a haul truck automation trial and battery-electric underground equipment developments continuing to take place.

In its 2019 annual report, Barrick said the first stage of a project designed to retrofit an autonomous system at its Carlin gold mine, in Nevada, had been successfully completed.

In the March quarter results presentation last week, Mark Bristow, Barrick President and CEO, updated investors on this project, saying a proof of concept allowing manned and unmanned operations in the same zone had been completed at one of its mines. On top of this, the company said it was working on autonomous drilling projects.

It is underground where the biggest revelation came, with Barrick confirming trials of a 50 t battery-electric haul truck it mentioned in its 2019 annual report had commenced at its Turquoise Ridge gold operation, in Nevada. This trial involved an Artisan Z50 (graphic, pictured), the largest battery-powered underground haul truck currently on the market.

A Barrick spokesperson said the trial of the 50 t payload truck was expected to be finalised in the June quarter of this year, “with the option to extend, should the KPIs not be met”.

Barrick previously reported the introduction of a battery-powered development drill at its Hemlo underground gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, “as a first step towards establishing the potential of this new technology” in 2019. Having carried out a trial of this Sandvik DD422iE battery-powered development drill, the Barrick spokesperson confirmed the company has now acquired the unit.

Designed to use electric energy from an onboard battery during tramming and plug into a mine’s existing energy infrastructure while drilling, the Sandvik DD422iE has been used at Newmont’s Borden mine, in Ontario, among other places.

Bristow said on the call that the company believes battery-powered electric underground equipment “has the potential to lower operating costs and increase efficiencies”.

In addition to these automation and battery-electric vehicle developments, Barrick said in the results that a new global SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system was on track for its first implementation at the Nevada Gold Mines JV operations in the September quarter. This is a “more agile, less overly-customised tool, focused on getting the right information”, according to Barrick.

“This more streamlined and standardised global design will further improve our ability to report real-time cost and efficiency data and, more importantly, manage our real-time information,” Bristow said on the call.

The NGM JV implementation could lay the groundwork for a solution to be rolled out to other regions in 2021, according to Barrick.

Barrick’s underground digital innovation plan has seen the company recently adopt technologies that allow it to remotely monitor, in real time, a machine’s location, productivity and health, as well as that of operators’, Bristow said. This tool could increase its efficiencies and predictive maintenance capabilities, he added.

Barrick’s team at Loulo Underground, meanwhile, has helped develop a system that automatically turns secondary fans on and off using personal RFID tracking systems, Bristow noted on the call. This could help reduce power consumption at the mine, in Mali, and the project is now being implemented across its Africa underground mines, he said.

Sandvik’s largest electric LHD receives an upgrade as it heads to Kiruna

Sandvik says it is preparing to deliver its renewed Sandvik LH625iE electric loader for field testing at the LKAB-owned Kiruna mine, in northern Sweden.

The unit to be tested is the 600th electric loader from Sandvik, and is custom-designed to meet the needs of the underground iron ore mine, it said.

The underground loader, which features a 9.5 m³ bucket and 25,000 kg payload capacity, is designed to operate in the world’s largest underground iron ore mine.

The basic LH625iE design is well-proven (and based on the LH625E, pictured), according to Sandvik, with the equipment manufacturer delivering electric loaders powered by a trailing cable for more than 35 years.

In addition to using the proven design and robust structures, today’s Sandvik LH625iE belongs to its i-series, featuring advanced technology, latest digital solutions and smart connectivity. This sees the new Sandvik LH625iE equipped with Sandvik Intelligent Control System and My Sandvik Digital Services Knowledge Box™ as standard. To utilise the payload capacity it offers, the loader can also be fitted with Sandvik’s Integrated Weighing System, as well as AutoMine® and OptiMine® solutions, Sandvik said.

With a total length of 14 m, bucket width of 4 m and cabin height of 3 m, the LH625iE is able to offer a roomy, ergonomically designed operator’s compartment, Sandvik said. “For example, the spacious cabin is equipped with a unique 180° turning seat which significantly improves operator ergonomics because it can be turned to face in the direction of travel rather than requiring over-the-shoulder visibility. The upgraded Sandvik LH625iE has an IE4 classified energy-efficient electric motor, with a further significant improvement being the totally new, low-tension reeling system to increase the trailing cable’s lifetime. “

The collaboration between Sandvik and LKAB’s mine in Kiruna dates back 20 years, during which time Sandvik has delivered a total of 28 loaders.

Michael Palo, Senior Vice President, Northern Division at LKAB, said: “We are satisfied with the loaders delivered from Sandvik, with 14 still in production today. We have had a long and good collaboration and look forward to a good continuation.”

Sandvik concluded: “The Sandvik LH625iE is living proof that it is possible to achieve enormous carrying capacity and productivity without the use of traditional diesel engines and fossil fuel.”

Battery-electric loaders are also providing evidence of this, with Sandvik saying it had received positive results from its testing of Artisan A10 battery-electric loaders in Canada.