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Sandvik adds Turku plant to battery-electric vehicle manufacturing plan

Sandvik is expanding its plant in Turku, Finland, to incorporate the manufacture of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) for underground mining, it says.

Alongside the expansion, which is set to be completed in the second half of 2023, the whole of the plant for load and haul equipment is set to be enhanced and modernised.

Sandvik’s Turku Business Park project represents a significant investment of over €10 million ($9.7 million), with the investment in response to increasing demand for load and haul equipment for underground mining, together with the industry’s growing trend towards electrification and digitalisation.

The objective is to increase the capacity of Sandvik’s Turku plant and improve production efficiency. Improvements will be made to all aspects of the plant’s operations, including logistics, warehousing, production and assembly areas and quality control, Sandvik said.

The OEM will acquire an additional 7,000 sq.m of production and storage space by modifying space previously occupied by Tunturi, a manufacturer of bicycles and fitness equipment. The project will provide additional capacity for the production of BEV loaders and trucks, and includes investment in new welding robots and assembly lines.

Matti Seppälä, Project Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “The upgraded production environment and reorganisation of operations will improve productivity, lead times and worker safety. Warehouse and recycling improvements will enhance the sustainability of our operations.”

Three completely new machine assembly lines will be built, two of which will be designated for the manufacture of BEVs – a first for the Turku plant, which has manufactured mining loaders and trucks since the early 1980s and employs around 700 people today.

The modifications that form part of the Turku Business Park project will enable flexible manufacturing of both conventional diesel and battery-electric mining equipment. The company’s plant in Camarillo, California, is currently the company’s main battery system hub for BEVs.

Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Load and Haul division, added: “BEVs enable the electrification of mines, which increases productivity and improves working conditions, reducing emissions, heat and noise, although there will still remain a need for conventional diesel equipment for some time to come.”

To strengthen its development of mining BEVs, Sandvik recently acquired Akkurate, which specialises in battery technology, particularly remote battery diagnostic and prognostic platforms. Akkurate has now been integrated into Sandvik’s Load and Haul division, accelerating its expansion into battery-electric mining equipment and enhancing the current product offering.