Tag Archives: BH18AC

British Gypsum set to expand Komatsu Joy lithium-ion battery fleet at Barrow mine

British Gypsum’s Barrow-upon-Soar gypsum mine in the UK, part of Saint-Gobain, is looking to expand its use of Joy battery haulers following the initial deployment of two lithium-ion haulers from Komatsu, IM heard during a technical session at the SME MineXchange Conference and Expo, in Phoenix, Arizona, recently.

“The operation has been running two of these 18 short ton (16.4 t) payload battery haulers, BH18ACs, for just over nine months, with the units replacing 16 short ton diesel DBT ‘Ram Car’ vehicles,” Jerry Davis, Principal Engineer at Komatsu, said during his presentation ‘Case Study on the benefits of implementing the lithium-ion battery powered haulage in underground mining’.

“Komatsu has manufactured 820 battery haulers to date (the majority being with lead-acid batteries), with 15 of these lithium-ion battery versions,” Davis said. “This is set to expand to 29 lithium-ion battery units in the near term.”

Two of these lithium-ion haulers are now at the Barrow-upon-Soar mine. These are capable of mining seams of 1.45 m and represent some of the first lithium-ion battery models of their kind to have been delivered in the UK. British Gypsum said previously that it would replace a third diesel hauler with a battery-powered unit this year.

The BH18AC is the first lithium-ion battery hauler in soft-rock mining in Europe and, Komatsu Mining says, is designed to boost productivity with 75% faster charge time, and much lower maintenance versus traditional lead acid technology. “Brushless AC-traction motors drive each front wheel independently and are designed to deliver maximum torque,” the company says. “Your operators enjoy excellent steering, smooth operation and strong performance on steep inclines. Regenerative braking enhances control on descents. When conditions require extra traction, operators can hold down a button on the joystick to engage the trailer wheels for all-wheel-drive.”

The Joy lithium-ion battery charging option is capable of approximately two hours from discharged to full charge with no cool down period needed. At the Barrow-upon-Soar mine, it is currently using the haulers with a battery swapping mechanism.

At the Barrow-upon-Soar mine, British Gypsum is currently using the haulers with a battery swapping mechanism

The two new haulers have been tested on surface and underground in the room and pillar gypsum operation. They have been in commercial operation since mid-2023.

Davis said the operation was still awaiting feedback on operating cost and productivity comparisons, but the two vehicles had already achieved vehicle availability of approximately 100% (compared with the diesel-equivalent circa-70%). The Joy battery haulers had also averaged a 6-m advancement in 12 loads, compared with the diesel-equivalent’s 16 loads.

“In addition to the third unit, the mine operator is also considering replacing its existing cable-tethered loaders with battery haulers”, Davis added.

For Komatsu, meanwhile, the company is looking to continue product specific development within its Komatsu Mine Analysis Platform to aid asset management, productivity improvement solutions, operational support, application engineering, product development and warning systems.