Tag Archives: electric mine

Battery-electric vehicles dominate in GMG Electric Mine project survey

A survey aimed at defining priorities for the GMG Electric Mine Operational Knowledge Sharing Platform project has highlighted that despite the rise of other diesel-alternative technologies, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) continue to be the area of focus for the mine electrification community.

Respondents to the survey were asked about what types of equipment to prioritise, with haul trucks and LHD trucks coming up top out of all equipment and BEVs topping the results when it came to electric equipment types.

In terms of the latter, BEVs beat off competition from hydrogen fuel cells, trolley assist systems and tethered equipment, commanding more than three quarters of the votes.

GMG remarked: “Some commentators noted that this will be different depending on underground or open pit (eg BEVs underground, trolley for open pit), so this result may be skewed due to the large representation of underground mining in the survey.”

In the survey, performance was noted as the highest priority in terms of types of information that will provide value, GMG said.

However, the results of the workshops held under the project identified that there would be certain types of information that can be used to provide value in overlapping areas (eg they may help operations make performance comparisons and also identify operational or maintenance needs).

Highlights include:

  • Information about the daily cycle and time usage in comparison to diesel;
  • Identifying what information should be available in real time;
  • Information or metrics for comparing charging strategies;
  • Information for assessing and updating charging infrastructure;
  • Training information for operators, safety personnel and maintenance technicians; and
  • Information on heat generation.

And the following priorities were identified in the survey and workshops when it came to the uses of this information:

  • Understanding capital and operating costs;
  • Developing the business case;
  • Developing a charging philosophy and strategy;
  • Understanding safety requirements and improving safety; and
  • Understanding infrastructure, design and planning requirements.

The GMG noted: “These results may be influenced by the higher representation of underground mining professionals and that 64% of respondents are North American and similar representation at the workshops.”

The survey was open between April and June 2020 with 95 respondents (as of June 9). Underground mining was more heavily represented than surface, but many respondents specialised in both, according to GMG. Professionals (engineers, geologists, metallurgists, etc) were the most highly represented (26%) while corporate senior management (17%) and corporate technology leaders (17%) were also well represented.

The GMG Electric Mine Operational Knowledge Sharing Platform project aims to create a neutral platform to capture performance data for electric surface and underground equipment based on the industry’s knowledge and experience, GMG says.

Mincor to leverage new EV, teleremote and production drilling tech at Kambalda

Mincor says it plans to incorporate some of the most modern mining technology to enhance safety, boost operational efficiency and reduce costs at its integrated nickel re-start project in the Kambalda District of Western Australia.

Having released the definitive feasibility study on the project, the company is now awaiting a positive final investment decision from the Mincor Board. It hopes this will be made early in the September quarter. Should all go well, this could result in first nickel-in-concentrate production being achieved in the second half of 2021, it said.

The “Mincor Nickel Operations” DFS confirmed the potential to develop a five‐year operation producing 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million). This could see the project, which is likely to feature a contract mining model, generate a post-tax internal rate of return of 88% based on the company’s estimates.

Mincor said: “Importantly, the DFS reflects a starting position only as potential extensions to the life of mine have been identified at Cassini, where recent diamond drilling returned a significant intersection of 17.6 m at 5% Ni, which is outside the current mineral resource boundary and has been excluded from the DFS.

“At the Northern Operations, underground drilling is planned once mine development commences targeting extensions and new discoveries in this well-endowed nickel mining area.”

Despite this remaining potential, Mincor has already kicked off an early works program at the operation, which has seen Hampton Mining and Civil Services begin a “discrete two-month program” focused on site clearance activities for infrastructure and services, plus the excavation of the box-cut at the high-grade Cassini orebody, Mincor said.

The mine plan at the project involves scheduling production from three distinct mining operations, Cassini, Miitel and the Northern Operations (Durkin North and the Long mines). The mine design physicals and associated costs for the three all feed into individual mine models, with the outputs from each model forming part of an integrated mining and processing plan to optimise mining and processing schedules. This is all geared around delivering annual average throughput of 500,000-600,000 t of ore to the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator, in line with a toll treatment pact Mincor has in place with BHP Nickel West.

With the start-up of Cassini and the re-start of the mines previously under care and maintenance, Mincor said it plans to incorporate some of the most modern technology at the operation.

An important aspect of the DFS, which the company has previously talked about, is the use of electric light vehicles underground.

Mincor said: “The use of these vehicles has been considered to improve air quality and reduce primary ventilation power costs within each of the mines.”

The company has tested this out recently with a trial of Safescape’s battery-electric Bortana EV at its Long mine.

In addition to this, underground Wi-Fi is set to be used in development and production areas for control of equipment and real-time monitoring of ventilation, pumping and fleet activity. Related to this, teleremote control and laser guided technology on loaders is likely to be employed.

And, lastly, production drills will be fitted with Minnovare’s Production Optimiser to ensure longhole drilling conforms to design, thereby minimising dilution, Mincor said.

The Production Optimiser system combines advanced hardware and software that enhances the speed, accuracy and reliability of long-hole production drilling. This leads to improved stope productivity and, ultimately, increased profitability, Minnovare says.

The technology has previously been employed with favourable results at Northern Star Resources’ Kalgoorlie gold operations.

Nouveau Monde Graphite to add Tesla Cybertrucks to all-electric fleet at Matawinie

Nouveau Monde Graphite, which is attempting to develop the world’s first all-electric graphite mine at Matawinie in Quebec, Canada, says it has placed an order for five new Tesla Cybertrucks.

The announcement came in the same week Tesla’s Elon Musk unveiled the new all-electric vehicles at an event in the US.

In a post on LinkedIn, NMG said: “As we advance our mining development and business model targeting the lithium-ion batteries market, we felt these new Tesla Cybertrucks would be the perfect addition to our fleet.”

Likely to be used at Matawinie as a personnel carrier/utility vehicle, the Cybertruck is built with an exterior shell made for “ultimate durability and passenger protection”, according to Tesla. It has a “nearly impenetrable” exoskeleton, with Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin, in addition to Tesla armour glass. It also has an estimated plus-250 mile range, the company said.

It also has up to 3,500 Ib (1.6 t) of payload capacity and adjustable air suspension, 2.8 cu.m of exterior, lockable storage; a towing capability of over 14,000 Ib (6.4 t); adaptable suspension and self-levelling capabilities, Tesla says.

The truck can seat six “comfortably”, comes equipped with a 17 in touchscreen and all-new customised user interface, in addition to both on-board power and compressed air, according to the company.

Matawinie, meanwhile, is expected to start up in 2022. A 2018 feasibility study revealed strong economics for the project, with projected high-quality graphite concentrate production level of 100,000 t/y over a 26-year period.

Newmont Goldcorp’s ‘all-electric’ Borden mine reaches new milestone

Close to a week after cutting the ribbon on its Borden mine, near Chapleau, Ontario, Newmont Goldcorp has achieved commercial production safely, on schedule and within budget at the ‘all-electric’ mine.

The mine features state-of-the-art health and safety controls, digital mining technologies and processes, and low-carbon energy vehicles – the latter provided by the likes of Sandvik and MacLean Engineering.

Tom Palmer, Newmont Goldcorp President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Consistent project delivery and disciplined operational execution remain cornerstones of our business and are central to creating long-term shareholder value. Borden joins the next generation of Newmont Goldcorp mines and leverages our leading land position to anchor this new gold district in Ontario.”

At 1,000 sq.km, Borden’s land package represents additional exploration upside as the deposit remains open at depth in a favorable mining jurisdiction, according to the miner. Ore from Borden is processed at the existing mill at Porcupine, in Timmins, profitably extending operations at the gold mining complex.

In recognition of Borden’s contribution to the future of safe and sustainable mining, the Canadian and Ontario governments each granted C$5 million ($3.8 million) towards electrification of the mine.

 

Mine electrification is inevitable, Artisan Vehicles’ Kasaba says

As mining companies around the world seek the best ways to approach their sustainability goals, electrification has emerged as one of the most promising solutions.

With this in mind, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology recently acquired California-based Artisan Vehicle Systems, a leading manufacturer of battery-electric underground vehicles.

Recent studies show that the electrification of a mine has the potential to reduce energy costs by up to 25% in existing operations, and as much as 50% in new mines. Looking to the future, electric power is set to become even more affordable, with the cost of renewable electricity from solar and wind power technologies projected to fall by as much as 59% by 2025, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Mike Kasaba, Managing Director, Artisan Vehicle Systems, a Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology business unit, says electrification has the potential to disrupt every industry in which mobile equipment is used. Looking across all segments, development efforts are currently under way with virtually every manufacturer of vehicles or other mobile machines. Why is this? Kasaba says it comes down to the simple fact that the customers who use these machines are demanding it.

“Regardless of whether these customers are individuals, construction firms, government fleets, trucking companies, ports or mining and tunnelling organisations, what the vast majority of them have in common is that they are embracing a fundamental shift in technology away from fossil fuels,” Kasaba says.

Reducing diesel emissions to zero makes the underground working environment safer for the miners while ensuring that emissions are not vented into the environment. But, beyond the safety aspect and the obvious environmental benefit to the planet, Kasaba explains that electric mines also deliver advantages in terms of economy, productivity and performance.

“As the cost of this new technology decreases and the range, reliability and performance increase, electric drive systems are starting to outperform fossil fuel systems on overall cost of ownership, competitive advantage, return on investment and driver preference,” he says.

Many of these new mobile machines are being built from the outset with future technological advancements in mind.

“They are ready for remote upgrades, range performance improvements and more,” he says.

When it comes to the all-important economic arguments, a mine site stands to benefit in several ways from electrifying its mobile fleet. The cost of the ventilation systems, one of the most expensive aspects of developing and operating a mine, can be reduced by anywhere from 30-50% when using battery-electric machines that produce zero diesel emissions. Furthermore, less ventilation translates to a net reduction in electricity use and therefore a more energy efficient mine site overall. Meanwhile, the eliminated cost of buying diesel fuel equates to tens of thousands of dollars in savings – per vehicle and per year.

Maintenance costs are also reduced, since electric vehicle propulsion rigs have around 25% fewer parts than diesel propulsion rigs. Battery-electric machines produce one-eighth of the heat produced by a diesel machine, which can make new projects in deep mines, and mines with active geothermal conditions, more viable than they would otherwise be, due to the reduced heat factor.

Last but not least, regulatory bodies are gradually starting to favour mines that commit to an all-electric underground environment, resulting in approvals for permits that would otherwise be denied, along with a faster permitting process, both of which are potentially game-changing for mining companies around the world.

For its size, an electric motor has far more power and torque than a combustion engine. Since total horsepower does not have to be limited to mitigate ventilation system costs, far more power can be packed into a smaller machine. As a result, battery-electric machines can be designed from the ground up to handle more torque and power and therefore increase productivity in any given machine size class.

Although the advantages of electric mining speak for themselves, the industry is taking time to adapt. However, Kasaba says change is in the air.

“There are no obstacles preventing the use of electric,” he says. “The machines are at least as productive as diesel machines, the overall costs are lower, and batteries and electric components are being made in high volumes so production is scalable.” He adds that throughout modern history most technological advancements that have offered greater productivity, environmental, health and other benefits have tended to come with trade-offs such as increased costs, but this is not the case with electrification.

“The view is that, in the case of the electrification, overall costs will be lower,” Kasaba says. “This, coupled with the fact that zero diesel emissions are inherently healthier and safer for mine site workers, makes electrification inevitable.”

As a leading supplier to the mining industry, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has been quick to recognise the huge potential benefits of electrification. In February this year, Sandvik completed the acquisition of Artisan Vehicle Systems to secure access to its cutting-edge technologies and solutions, which include proprietary battery packs, electric motors, power electronics, software and control systems for hard-rock underground mining.

Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s Load and Haul division, says this is a logical step in complementing the market-leading competence and experience that already exists at Sandvik’s state-of-the-art battery-electric vehicle and electrification research centre at the Load and Haul facility in Turku, Finland.

“Artisan is a front-runner in electric vehicle development, and Sandvik’s new R&D foothold in this area will complement the know-how and skills we already have from developing and making world-leading loaders and trucks,” Eriksson says, adding that the acquisition is advantageous to both parties.

While Sandvik will benefit from Artisan’s quick, agile approach to innovation and battery-electric vehicle expertise, Artisan will gain access to the established strength and operational experience of Sandvik, which has been the market leader in tethered electric underground loaders since 1981.

“The acquisition of Artisan battery-electric vehicles places Sandvik in a leadership position in terms of electrification within underground mining, which is clearly the direction in which the industry is heading,” Eriksson concludes.

The full version of this article appeared first as a Sandvik Solid Ground online news story, see following link: https://solidground.sandvik/an-electric-future/

Epiroc books battery-electric orders from mines in Finland, Australia and Canada

Epiroc says it has recently secured orders for its second generation battery-electric machines from miners in Finland, Australia and Canada.

The orders come less than a year since the mining original equipment manufacturer launched the new range at an event in Örebro, Sweden.

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.”

Mine electrification hinged on reskilling, collaboration and mine design, EY says

A recent survey of miners and mining original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has shown that electrification of mines offers a lot more than lower carbon emissions and improved worker benefits.

The survey, commissioned by EY and conducted by the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland (Australia) and The Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at The University of British Columbia (Canada), deduced that reaping the full benefits of an electricity-powered mining future would require “reskilling, reaching out across sectors and rethinking the fundamentals of mine design”, EY said.

Paul Mitchell, EY Global Mining and Metals Leader, said the mining sector was on the verge of an electrification revolution, driven by significant cost reduction potential, lowered carbon emissions and improved worker health benefits.

“This is critically important, given the World Health Organisation has declared that diesel particulates now belong in the same deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas,” he said.

Four key themes emerged from the survey, according to EY.

  • Electrified mines improve economics and strengthen licence to operate;
  • Collaboration will unlock better electrification solutions;
  • Mine design needs a rethink to build in optionality for future innovation, and;
  • Electrification needs different skills, and advances technology deployment.

EY explained these four in more detail:

“Demand for carbon reduction in the sector is inevitable, and electrification is one way to achieve it,” the company said. “Diesel engines cannot be replaced with carbon-generating electricity and therefore electrification needs to be accompanied with a move to renewable power.

“The survey finds that electrification reduces not only operational costs, but also up-front capital costs because it reduces the infrastructure needs of ventilation shafts in underground mines. More significantly, the reduction of diesel particulates results in improvement to worker health and safety.”

Partnerships and co-creation of solutions with OEMs, other mining companies and governments are needed to successfully integrate electrification in mines, according to EY.

“The survey finds that, in the case of electrification, miners are clear that they can’t go it alone. This is leading to a more open perspective around the role of suppliers as strategic partners, which expands the possibilities for miners to benefit through innovation, cost reduction and competitive advantage.”

Newmont Goldcorp has taken such an approach at its Borden gold project, in Ontario, Canada – partnering with Sandvik and MacLean Engineering on developing what it says will be the world’s first all-electric underground mine – while Nouveau Monde Graphite has built up a taskforce of its own to progress its plans for an all-electric open-pit graphite mine in Quebec, Canada.

In terms of mine design, decoupling mines from diesel is not an easy task. This is due to the diverse range of technical and financial challenges in mining various deposits.

EY said: “Getting full value out of electrification requires a thorough consideration and understanding of the technology road map, in parallel with the strategic plan for the mine. The survey highlights the need for a phased implementation with a flexible design that provides for technology improvements of the future.”

And, lastly, mine electrification will require different worker skills as it enables other advanced technologies, requiring less maintenance and human intervention, according to EY.

“Analysis of the survey findings reveals there will be increasing demand for data and digital literacy skills across all phases of the mining value chain, as the human-to-machine interface evolves and becomes more prevalent,” the company said. “In developing economies, this means challenging the assumption that a mine provides employment only for people doing physical labour.”

Mitchell added: “It is important to start thinking about building agility into mine design to leverage the potential benefits in asset flexibility, lower ventilation requirements and the human footprint.

“The future of electrification in mines requires a paradigm shift in thinking – from existing known and proven technologies to new emerging technologies. We must realise that the challenges of the sector can be solved faster by collaboration – and a robust strategy, underpinned by gaining the right capabilities and an agile approach, is critical.”

The Electric Mine charges on to Sweden

Following the success of the inaugural Electric Mine event in Toronto, Canada, in April, International Mining Events has wasted no time in confirming the 2020 follow up; this time in Stockholm, Sweden.

Taking place at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel on March 19-20, 2020, The Electric Mine 2020 will be even bigger, featuring new case studies from miners implementing electrification projects and presentations from the key OEMs and service suppliers shaping these solutions.

A leading hub in Europe for mining equipment and innovation, Sweden was the obvious choice for the 2020 edition of the event. Miners including Boliden and LKAB have already made electric moves above and below ground, and the north of the country is set to host Europe’s first home-grown gigafactory, the Northvolt Ett lithium-ion battery cell facility.

Sweden and Finland also play host to Europe’s major mining OEMs such as Epiroc, Sandvik, Metso and Outotec (soon to possibly be Metso Outotec Corp), and the Nordic region has a rich mining innovation legacy.

Capacity crowd

The announcement of the 2020 Electric Mine edition comes hot on the heels of a hugely successful debut in Toronto.

With the Radisson Admiral, on Toronto Harbourfront, filled out to capacity, the circa-150 attendees were treated to more than 20 world-class papers from miners Vale, Goldcorp (now Newmont Goldcorp), Kirkland Lake Gold, Boliden and Nouveau Monde Graphite; OEMs Epiroc, Sandvik, Caterpillar, Volvo CE and BELAZ; and equipment and service specialists Siemens, ABB, GE Transportation (a Wabtec company). Presentations from Doug Morrison (CEMI), Marcus Thomson (Norcat), David Sanguinetti (Global Mining Guidelines Group), Erik Isokangas (Mining3) and Ali Madiseh (University of British Columbia), meanwhile, provided the R&D angle delegates were after.

The event was a truly global affair, attracting delegates and exhibitors from Africa, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America, all eager to hear about developments across the sector.

Bigger and better

International Mining Events is upping the ante for 2020, increasing the event capacity to 200 delegates and making plans for a possible site visit to witness electric equipment in action.

Talks from several miners, as well as global international companies, will again underpin the 1.5-day conference program, which will also expand to cover the use of renewable/alternative energy within the field.

There will, again, be opportunities for sponsorship and exhibiting, with several companies already in discussions about booking the prime opportunities for the event.

If you would like to know more about The Electric Mine 2020, please feel free to contact Editorial Director, Paul Moore ([email protected]) or Editor, Dan Gleeson ([email protected]).

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you in Stockholm!

Aramine launches diesel-electric drill for narrow vein mining

Aramine has looked to complete its equipment range for narrow vein mines with the introduction of its diesel-electric hybrid miniDriller DM901 HDE drill rig.

The compact machine uses the diesel engine for tramming and electric motor for drilling, according to Aramine, while it can be operated tele-remotely, removing the operator from potential hazards.

The DM901 HDE has a low centre of gravity for optimal stability. Despite its narrow width, the two front stabilisers offer perfect drilling conditions, according to the company. This allows for both face and vertical drilling, Aramine said.

Aramine says the DM901 HDE only requires a 400 V electric connection and a water supply to operate and is designed with modular elements for easy assembly/disassembly in a mine. It “sneaks wherever our L130 and L150 miniLoaders go”, Aramine said. This means the new machine is ideal for sections between 6 sq.m and 12 sq.m.

With an existing partnership between Aramine and Epiroc, the company can offer an exclusive optional version with an Epiroc Feed and Drifter, Aramine said.

“As most of Aramine machines are, the DM901 HDE complements perfectly the Epiroc range,” Arnaud Paul, Aramine Equipment Sales Director, said.

Aramine says it is preparing its fully-electric battery-powered version for 2020, with innovations at all levels of the machine.

Volvo CE goes all-electric at Skanska Vikan Cross quarry

Volvo Construction Equipment has started a 10-week trial of its ‘Electric Site’ concept at Skanska’s Vikan Kross operation, near Gothenburg, Sweden, as the two companies look to create the world’s first emission-free quarry.

The project, which incorporates electric and autonomous Volvo machines, will run in a real production environment aiming to achieve the same output as Skanska’s usual equipment, and is expected to deliver an anticipated 95% reduction in carbon emissions and 25% reduction in total cost of operations during the 10 weeks.

Drawing on the electromobility and automation expertise of the Volvo Group, the research project, dubbed Electric Site, aims to electrify each transport stage in a quarry – from excavation to primary crushing, and transport to secondary crushing – with only a negligible amount of diesel power being used.

Gunnar Hagman, CEO of Skanska Sweden, said: “This is the first time that anything like this has been attempted in the quarrying industry and, if successful, Electric Site could serve as a blueprint for transforming the efficiency, safety and environmental impact of quarries around the world.”

Its success will no doubt have ramifications for the mining industry, too.

Melker Jernberg, president of Volvo CE, said: “We have had to completely rethink the way we work and how we look upon machine efficiency – pushing the boundaries of our competence. The total site solution we developed together with our customer Skanska is not a commercial solution for sale today, and we will evaluate the outcome of the tests, but we have learnt so much already, elements of which will be fed into our future product development.”

The project has involved developing new concept machines, work methods and site management systems which, together, form a complete site solution. New technology encompasses machine and fleet control systems and logistic solutions for electric machines in quarries.

Three rigid haulers, for example, have been replaced by eight smaller prototype HX2 autonomous, battery-electric load carriers to transport the material from the primary mobile crusher up to the secondary static crusher.

This protoype has advanced significantly since the HX1 was first shown to customers and members of the international press at the Volvo Exploration Forum in September 2016, according to Uwe Müller, chief project manager for Electric Site at Volvo CE.

“The HX1 was our proof of concept,” he said. “Once we knew it was feasible, we updated the design requirements for the HX2 to incorporate shared technologies and components from the Volvo Group, such as electric motors, batteries and power electronics. Integrating a completely new drivetrain was crucial to take full advantage of the groundbreaking electromobility developments that are happening inside the Volvo Group.”

Another new feature is the addition of a vision system, which allows the machine to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity, he added.

The primary crusher on the Skanska site is loaded by the 70 t dual-powered, cable-connected EX1 excavator prototype, which had not previously been seen by customers and press. The base machine for the EX1 is a Volvo EC750 model upgraded to incorporate an electric motor in addition to diesel engine.

“To fit the new components in the machine without increasing its size required a significant amount of repackaging work,” Müller said. “However, in terms of the operator interface and controls, nothing has changed – it’s operated in exactly the same way as a conventional Volvo excavator. If the cable is connected, the machine will automatically start in electric mode. If it’s not, it will start in diesel mode.”

Because the machine will be relatively static – only moving a few meters once or twice a day as the excavator works its way through the blasted rock – it is ideally suited as a fully electric machine on a cable, he added.

The stockpiles of material on site are organised by the LX1, Volvo CE’s prototype electric hybrid wheel loader. The machine can deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency, as well as significant reductions in emissions and noise pollution compared to conventional counterparts.

The LX1 is a ‘series hybrid’ incorporating a driveline that consists of electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric-driven hydraulics, an energy storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine and new machine architecture, including a new design of the lifting unit.

“It is this combination that enables the substantial gain in fuel efficiency,” Volvo CE says.

The prototype – which has 98% new parts and a fundamentally new machine design – can do the work of a wheel loader that is one size larger, according to the company.

Volvo CE teamed up with its customer Skanska Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency and two Swedish universities – Linköping University and Mälardalen University – in October 2015 to collaborate on the SEK203 million ($22 million) Electric Site project.

Volvo CE is coordinating the project and is in charge of developing the machines and systems. Skanska Sweden is providing logistical solutions, application relevance and job site knowledge. The Swedish Energy Agency is helping to fund the project and the universities are carrying out research. Two PhD students are looking at battery ageing and energy management for electric vehicles, as well as functional safety.