Torex Gold’s Media Luna project in Mexico has been behind a surge of battery-electric vehicle contract activity of late, with the latest recipient being Saskatoon-based Rokion.
The gold mining company has ordered a 28-strong fleet of BEVs from Rokion, set to start being delivered at the back end of the year.
These vehicles will be crucial in providing zero emission and effective personnel transport and production support functions at the project, which is set to extend the life of mine of its El Limón Guajes (ELG) Complex through at least 2033.
Media Luna is located 7 km south of the existing ELG Complex comprised of the El Limón, Guajes and El Limón Sur open pits, El Limón Guajes underground mine, plus the processing plant and related infrastructure. It is an underground deposit primarily containing gold, copper and silver mineralisation, separated from the ELG Complex by the Balsas River.
The underground mine is designed for an average production capacity of 7,500 t/d, predominately using a mining method of longhole stoping with paste backfill, supplemented by mechanised cut and fill stoping where appropriate. It will be a fully mechanised operation with the primary access to the mine via the Guajes Tunnel, which, itself, will have a length of approximately 6.5 km, creating an underground connection between the ELG Complex and the Media Luna mine. The ELG site will continue to serve as the base of mine operations, with all production levels accessible from the internal mine ramp.
Torex expects to bring Media Luna into commercial production in early 2025, ramping up to 7,500 t/d by 2027 and creating one of Mexico’s largest underground mines. It contains reserves of approximately 2.1 Moz gold, 18.9 Moz silver and 444 Mlb copper.
As of March 31, 2023, physical progress on the project was approximately 24%, according to Torex, with detailed engineering, procurement activities, underground development and surface construction advancing. The project continued to track to overall schedule and budget, the company noted.
Equipment deliveries will be key in advancing the project in line with the schedule and, earlier this year, both Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and MacLean announced sizeable equipment orders – both battery- and diesel-powered – related to the mine’s development and production phases.
Now, IM can reveal that Torex has also sealed an agreement with Rokion.
Rokion are to supply 27 of its battery-powered utility trucks to the operation along with one R700 forklift – the latter representing the company’s first order for a battery-powered forklift.
According to Rokion, these trucks can navigate mine sites with 20% grade at a full gross vehicle weight and full speed while traveling more than 70 km per charge. This is more than enough to get through a full shift without charging. And, while availability is a key selling point, Rokion says its battery-powered vehicles have been designed for simple and easy maintenance. The modularity of the components are “ideal for remote mining locations where the priority is to have dedicated service personnel with expertise in production mining equipment”.
When it comes to vehicle specifics, Rokion outlined that Torex would receive 10 R200 battery-powered trucks – configured to carry up to five passengers – two R200 trucks set up as two-passenger surveyor utility vehicles, two R200 two-person “6×6 Surveyor” utility vehicles and four R200 two-person “6×6 Electrician” utility vehicles. This would be complemented by seven R400 vehicles fitted out to carry 12 passengers – which have four-wheel steering to greatly improve manouevrability, according to Rokion – and two R400s equipped for three passengers able to carry out mechanic duties.
Gertjan Bekkers, Vice-President, Mines Technical Services with Torex, said: “Our light-vehicle fleet will be used to drive fairly significant distances between our work sites on every shift, so the flexibility and range of these vehicles were key considerations for Torex during the procurement phase. The tunnel connecting Media Luna with ELG is like our horizontal shaft, connecting to the internal ramp of the Media Luna mine. Of course, we’ve also carefully considered equipment reliability and we were particularly impressed by the enhancements that Rokion has made to their portfolio since entering the underground hard-rock mining market.”
Kipp Sakundiak, CEO of Rokion, said the two companies have struck up a very important partnership over the last year or so when the engagement began.
“After getting to know the team at Torex, we are excited about the opportunities,” he told IM. “It is a good thing when you have a vendor-supplier relationship whereby both companies share similar values.”
Deliveries of the vehicles will start in October, with the full fleet set to be in place in 2025, according to Sakundiak.