LDO Group is making serious headway in deploying Rokion’s ground-up-design electric light vehicles across Australia, with the New South Wales-based distributor hoping to have three machine trials in place before the end of the year.
LDO is focused on the underground mining and tunnelling industries, specialising in systems, processes, mine planning and training. It has been the exclusive distributor of Canada-made Rokion battery-powered vehicles in Australasia since 2018, having deployed vehicles across the soft- and hard-rock space.
The latest Rokion deployment LDO Group is celebrating is at Agnico Eagle Mines’ Fosterville gold operation in Victoria where a Rokion R400 was recently shown off alongside a Sandvik LH518B at a launch ceremony at the gold operation.
Alan Ross, General Manager of LDO Group, said the R400 vehicle – a platform able to accommodate three passengers in a utility vehicle setup or up to 12 in a passenger crew variant – has been deployed as part of a six-month trial at the operation.
“They (the Fosterville team) plan to use this in a people carrier configuration,” Ross told IM. “It will transport people to and from the operation.”
Considering the ramp-supported Fosterville operation goes below 800-m depth, this will present a good test for the R400’s re-generation capacity and uphill performance.
Rokion says the vehicle, which has 100 kWh of battery capacity, was engineered for the demands of underground mining and is its most adaptive platform design, capable of transporting a large crew in mine applications. Like all Rokion vehicles, it incorporates lithium iron phosphate battery chemistry, which, the company says, is the safest battery chemistry currently available.
The vehicle heading underground at Fosterville was previously deployed at a coal mining operation in Queensland, yet Ross says LDO Group is now re-focusing its efforts on the hard-rock mining space.
This has already seen the company partner with Newmont on an R400 deployment at its Tanami underground operation in the Northern Territory of Australia where it was initially used to transport team members up and down the mine.
Newmont said last year that early indicators had shown the vehicle had the capability to complete several trips to and from the bottom of the Tanami mine without requiring recharging.
Ross agreed with the Newmont assessment, explaining that the company was expected to re-deploy the same unit to the Tanami operation with an additional battery cooling module later this year.
“The ambient temperatures can reach 50°C in the Tanami desert, so we have equipped the vehicle with this new module to cope with such extremes,” he explained.
The company also has two R200 units – which include a four-passenger crew truck and a two-passenger utility truck – in Australia awaiting redeployment. One of these vehicles recently completed a successful stint at a tunnelling operation in the country.
LDO is also engaged with another mining company with an operation in New South Wales seeking to trial Rokion’s smallest battery-electric platform, the R100.
The R100 series includes a four-passenger crew truck and a two-passenger utility truck, with both models built on the same frame dimensions and available in ramp-ready configurations.
“We’re currently focused on these three key customers and supporting them in terms of the deployments and on-going operations,” Ross said.
In addition to regular site visits from LDO personnel to support maintenance and operations staff at the underground mines, LDO staff are able to remotely download data logs for these machines on a daily basis, assessing if there is potential for optimising the operation or if maintenance work may need to be conducted.
With many companies in the battery-electric light vehicle conversion space in Australia struggling to get hold of donor diesel vehicles, Ross says mining companies are increasingly appreciating Rokion’s ground-up approach.
“We have a fantastic OEM partner to rely on for these vehicles and we at LDO are able to support them in the best possible way,” he said. “We don’t have to rely on a different vendor to obtain the base machine; the design, engineering, manufacturing and testing are all performed under the Rokion roof, ensuring quality from concept to delivery.”
Ross said Rokion is continually working on design improvements and new machines based on industry feedback, with a newly-designed R200 vehicle set to bridge the gap between the existing R200 and the larger R400.
Kipp Sakundiak, CEO of Rokion, was happy to provide more details of this to IM: “The latest in our R200 Series is an 11-passenger crew truck built on a heavier frame and suspension construction than our previous models, all the while maintaining the simplicity and performance of dual drive motors.”
Sakundiak said the new model was robust and powerful, at the same time offering a comfortable ride for all crew members.
He added: “There is a lot of adaptability built into the new platform, including configurations for soft- and hard-rock applications. It’s one of our most versatile designs.”