Epiroc says it has recently secured orders for its second generation battery-electric machines from miners in Finland, Australia and Canada.
In Finland in the September quarter, Agnico Eagle Mines ordered the Boltec E Battery rig for use at its Kittilä mine, Europe’s biggest gold operation.
The company, as part of the EU-led Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) project where Epiroc is serving as a coordinator, has also been testing Epiroc battery-electric equipment. A Boomer E2 Battery has been operating for some months at the mine and, in August, a Minetruck MT42 Battery (42 t truck) and a Scooptram ST14 Battery (14 t LHD) arrived as part of the project.
Jari Kolehmainen, Production Manager at Agnico Eagle Mines, said the Boomer E2 Battery had been performing well and a diesel engine had not “been missed”.
He continued: “Operator feedback has been positive and we are looking forward to expanding our fleet with more electrical powered equipment in the near future. Therefore we are also very excited to be testing the battery-powered mine truck and loader. These tests are giving us the confidence to be a successful early adopter of this new and exciting technology.”
In addition to the orders and testing at Kittilä, several orders from other companies have been booked in previous quarters for battery-electric versions of the Boltec rock bolting rig, Boomer face drilling rig, Scooptram loader and Minetruck hauler, the company said.
Epiroc, upon launching its second generation machines in November 2018, said it had clocked up more than 60,000 hours of operating time with these electric machines. It is being helped along the way by battery maker Northvolt and ABB. Epiroc has committed to its Batteries-as-a-service offering that sees the mining OEM provide a warranty for the battery and provide both software and hardware updates on an annual basis.
The company launched its first battery-electric machines in 2016, adding, in November 2018, 14 t and 18 t LHDs, a 42 t truck and a mid-sized drilling family including face drilling, production drilling and rock reinforcement rigs. Epiroc aims to be able to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025.
The benefits of this technology include improved health and safety, lower total cost of operation and higher productivity. The advantage is especially significant for deepening underground operations where mining companies traditionally must invest heavily in ventilation to air out the diesel fumes.
Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We see very strong customer interest for our new battery-electric mining machines. The technology is now well established, and more and more mining companies are realising the significant benefits that come with using electric machines instead of diesel. We are proud to spearhead the mining industry’s drive toward a fossil-free future.”