Tag Archives: Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions

Sandvik to deliver advanced automation system at Codelco El Teniente’s Andesita project

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is further expanding its strong automation partnership with Codelco, receiving a major order for its AutoMine® load and haul solution for the Andesita project at El Teniente mine in Chile.

Following multiple automation solutions orders from Codelco in 2023, Sandvik will implement an advanced automation system and deliver a new automated Toro™ LH621i loader during 2024.

“El Teniente mine is on its way to becoming the underground operation with the highest level and most intensive use of automated equipment in the world,”  Rodrigo Andrades, El Teniente Mine Manager, said. “To sustain this process, we require suppliers with a high level of commitment and collaboration in this objective.”

David Hallett, Vice President, Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Codelco yet again, this time delivering our leading AutoMine technology to enhance safety, efficiency and productivity in the new Andesita project. This contract reinforces our position as a trusted partner in mine automation and our commitment to meeting Codelco’s evolving needs.”

The contract includes training, workshops and essential components for comprehensive lifecycle support, as well as scalability terms for the purchase and delivery of additional Toro LH621i loaders and automation systems for additional tunnels through 2028.

“As a leading OEM in the transformation to safer and more sustainable mining operations, we value Codelco’s continued trust in Sandvik and look forward to continuing our commitment to grow our partnership,” Ricardo Pachon, Vice President, Sales South Cone and Andean at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said.

Sandvik retaining the platform approach for load & haul electrification

Sandvik’s aim to electrify the underground mining space have been gaining traction over recent years, with single machine trials and deployments that typified the early stages of its mission now replaced by fleet-wide agreements that, if not already in operation, will be starting up underground in the years to come.

As with all transitions, the electric one has not been easy. There have been teething issues along the way; whether that is equipping batteries for the harsh nature of an underground mines, educating employees about best practice maintenance and operations of this equipment, or facing an onslaught of questions about potential battery fires witnessed in passenger vehicles via YouTube.

Just how much traction the company has been gaining was made clear late last year during its Capital Markets Day event.

Here, the company outlined that battery-electric vehicles accounted for 15% of all load and haul orders in the year to the end of October. On top of that, it displayed an impressive pie chart showing that, from January-October 2023, Sandvik had won more than 75% of orders for battery-electric equipment.

These numbers do not factor in the cable-electric loaders the company has been selling for decades, plus the underground battery-electric drilling equipment that trams on battery power at mining operations across the globe.

For all this positive momentum, battery-electric does not make sense for everyone…yet.

IM has documented a series of both diesel-electric and hybrid diesel-electric LHD sales in Australia recently, with at least one of these sales following the trial of battery-electric equipment.

Sandvik has made clear that it will have something in store for miners in transition between diesel and fully-electric operation, stating last year that it was developing diesel-electric trucks and loaders for the industry.

Unlike some of its peers, Sandvik is deliberately building this offering with fully-electric operations in mind.

“Currently we are developing diesel-electric solutions both for trucks and loaders,” Juha Virta, VP Sales and Marketing for the Load and Haul Division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, told IM. “We aim to maximise the customer value by utilising modular design in our equipment: battery and diesel-electric equipment will have commonalities eg in drivelines, hydraulics, electrics and spare parts.”

This approach will make it easier for customers to transfer from diesel-electric equipment to battery-electric equipment, Virta says. The “commonalities” could also prove beneficial in developing the skill sets required from service personnel.

“Energy storage elements are also included in our development portfolio, enabling, for example, hybrid solutions, delivering positive results in the area of fuel consumption and the equipment performance,” he added.

This is all part of an increasingly diverse offering from the OEM that Brian Huff, Vice President of New Technologies for the Load and Haul Division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, mentioned during the Capital Markets Day.

He said: “We’re taking the technology of our battery-operated drills, loaders and trucks, and expanding that with diesel-electric using the same motors, inverters and componentry in a modular approach that allows us to offer diesel solutions with the same electrified driveline from our battery-operated equipment.”

The developments the company is making as part of this project are being displayed on the TH66X diesel-electric demonstrator – a Toro diesel-powered truck that has been retrofitted with an electric driveline – that customers first saw in Turku, Finland, in 2022. This machine is currently in factory tests, according to Virta, saying that component validation and a variety of simulations were also being run.

“The program also includes a significant amount of testing in a real underground mine environment,” he added. “Developing new technology and ensuring its performance takes some time, and sufficient and careful tests are extremely important – we are in a very good progress with that currently.”

For this, Sandvik is using not only its Test Mine in Tampere, Finland, but also the Pyhäsalmi mine. Sandvik is using the latter operation – owned by First Quantum Minerals – as part of its involvement in the Callio consortium: a group of companies focused on developing ‘FutureMINE – the future digital test mine project’.

One of the other participants in this consortium is Byrnecut, who has been partnering with Sandvik based on a recent LinkedIn post by Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

“We have long traditions with working in close collaboration with different customers, and that will continue to be Sandvik approach also going forward,” Virta said when asked about this partnership. “Byrnecut is one of our customers and a very important partner for us, and, along with Barminco, will be one of the first companies to test the TH66X in the field.”

Considering the majority of the team focused on this diesel-electric demonstrator are based in Turku, one would expect this facility to have significant influence on the commercial offering that follows.

The facility is undergoing an expansion focused on incorporating an additional 7,000 sq.m of production and storage space previously occupied by Tunturi, a manufacturer of bicycles and fitness equipment. The whole of the plant for load and haul equipment is also set to be enhanced and modernised.

Petri Liljaranta, Supply Director for the Load and Haul Division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, says the expansion is progressing as planned with all but a few of the company’s finishing functions relocated according to its plans. “This final part of the project is expected to be finished in the June quarter,” he added.

One of the expansion project’s targets was to increase the manufacturing space at its facilities, and this target has already been achieved, with the company well equipped to respond to growing volume needs in the coming years, according to Liljaranta.

“Based on current views, the battery-electric vehicle manufacturing capacity is expected to meet expected market demand during 2024,” he said.

Sandvik and Barrick strengthen ties with extended global framework agreement

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Barrick Gold Corporation have extended a global framework agreement, enhancing the long-term partnership between the OEM and mining major.

Sandvik and Barrick will aim to improve safety, productivity and sustainability through implementing the latest technology advancements. The agreement will be guided by operational and relationship key performance indicators, the OEM says.

Glenn Heard, Mining Executive at Barrick, said: “Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions supplies value-adding technologies for our global mining operations. This mutually beneficial cooperation will help ensure we continue our growth journeys in the areas of automation, digitalisation and electrification in order to drive improvements across our sites.”

The extended framework agreement includes Barrick’s rollout of Sandvik’s Remote Monitoring Service (RMS) to its entire global underground fleet of more than 200 connected Sandvik trucks, loaders and drills. RMS has already reduced maintenance costs while increasing uptime across Barrick’s Sandvik fleet, according to Sandvik.

Under the framework agreement, Sandvik and Barrick will also develop a long-term battery-electric vehicle (BEV) strategy and define BEV transition plans in line with Barrick’s objective to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“This extension of our agreement will strengthen Sandvik’s partnership with Barrick,” Hugo Hammar, Global Account Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “We look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand to add value to Barrick’s business.”

Amelia: the underground drilling conversation starter

Some 16 months after launch, Sandvik’s AutoMine® Concept Underground Drill, also known as ‘Amelia’, is having the impact Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions was hoping for, influencing most forward-looking conversations it is having with new and existing underground drilling clients.

The AutoMine Concept Underground Drill, launched at the company’s Test Mine in Tampere, Finland, in September 2022, is a fully autonomous, twin-boom development drill rig capable of drilling without human interaction. The cabinless unit can plan and execute the entire drilling cycle from tramming to the face, setting up for drilling, drilling the pattern and returning home to charge for the next cycle – all on battery power.

Amelia – a name that was attached to the vehicle due to its industrious connotations – was designed to showcase next-generation intelligent automation and other new technologies and features that will be introduced for current and future Sandvik offerings.

Sandvik’s underground drilling team is now that much closer to having identified what these features are.

“Amelia was always designed as a conversation starter, and that has certainly proven true,” Patrick Murphy, President, Underground Drilling Division at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, told IM and a select group of trade journalists during a recent visit to the Test Mine. “Hundreds and hundreds of clients have seen this vehicle since launch, and we have had a lot of feedback; much of it proving very valuable.”

From speaking to Murphy and the AutoMine team, it is apparent many customers would have liked to acquire one of these concept machines upon launch in September, however its true value remains as a technology demonstrator for testing and development purposes.

Amelia uses a SLAM-based algorithm to improve tramming and localisation accuracy

The self-contained drill has no cable, being powered instead off an on-board battery. It uses and optimises power and electricity based on need, making that power supply last even longer. Automated tramming, mission management, drilling and bit changing are some of the elements Sandvik highlighted upon launch, and much of the initial customer discussion has centred around these features.

“Having a machine that is sitting here in the Test Mine, is tangible, functional and can be demonstrated, allows us to have these practical conversations with customers, more so than any model we could put up on a screen,” Murphy said.

One of the elements that has caught the attention of customers is an automated lifter tube installer that removes personnel from the face charging procedure.

“When speaking to many operators, the potential to automate lifter tube installation keeps coming up,” Murphy said. “These tubes – installed in the bottom rows of a drill pattern to ensure no cuttings or muck from the holes above fill the previously-drilled holes – typically require a ‘nipper’ or ‘offsider’ to come in beside the face of the drill for installation. The potential to remove this person from this hazardous environment has really captured the attention of customers.”

The automated process Amelia currently uses for lifter tube installations is unlikely to be commercialised, but a variant of it could feature on the underground development drills in the future.

Patrick Murphy, President, Underground Drilling Division at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions

Some other elements included on the concept vehicle likely to come into the commercial drilling line-up include an artificial intelligence-guided automatic drill bit changer to identify when bits are worn and then, changed automatically, a SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping)-based algorithm to improve tramming and localisation accuracy and, of course, battery-backed drilling.

Amelia is designed to drill a whole round off battery power, and Murphy says a commercialised, economic option would be of interest to customers.

“If we can offer that cost-effectively compared with a diesel-powered machine, then there would be a market pull,” he said. “The solution isn’t there yet, but the flexibility showcased with Amelia – in not having to supply cables or water hoses during operation – has been highlighted by many customers we have interacted with.”

Johannes Välivaara, Vice President R&D and Product lines in the Underground Drilling Division at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, says the commercialisation of RockPulse technology for continuous rock mass feedback to optimise drilling performance will be on the underground drilling roadmap, too.

“Rock Pulse has been built to measure the stress vibrations going in and out from the hole through drilling consumables,” he said. “This is a future upgrade for our drills as this real-time rock information will allow operations to make plans for ground support and get the geotechnical information off the unit in real time.”

RockPulse technology already featured on Amelia could be further integrated on commercial drill rigs with geoSURE, a rig-integrated, high precision, online rock mass analysis and visualisation system initially developed for tunnelling process optimisation. geoSURE is an important tool for the assessment of rock reinforcement or injection requirements, as well as serving as an assisting tool for charging and blasting control and geological mapping, according to the OEM.

“This (geoSURE) could be further enhanced when RockPulse is integrated into it,” Välivaara said. “It is currently only available for face drilling applications but will come into the longhole drilling space, too.”

Amelia, in this case, has not just lived up to her ‘industrious’ and ‘hardworking’ traits, she has also acted as a catalyst for change.

For example, since launch, automated options for longhole drilling have risen to the surface in customer discussions. And it is hard to see AutoMine for Underground Drills having been introduced as quickly as it has without this concept vehicle having launched.

This platform, which enables operators to remotely and simultaneously control and supervise multiple automated Sandvik underground longhole drills, can increase efficiency, safety and overall productivity in mining operations.

It has also put Sandvik in a club of its own; being the only OEM able to offer a unified traffic management system for drills, loaders and trucks. This means all three types of automated equipment can be operated and tram within the one AutoMine-controlled zone.

Testing: the secret sauce of Sandvik R&D

Jani Vilenius has his plate full at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. As Director of Research and Technology Development, he is brought into most conversations the business area has about future mining products.

In fact, he even works across the Sandvik Rock Processing business area on occasion, as well as overseeing the design centre in Bangalore, India, which provides “value engineering” across Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions divisions.

“We coordinate research programs and projects, not products,” Vilenius told IM recently in the company’s newest office in Tampere, Finland. “This may be overseeing the concept machines that we have been producing for several years, as well as technology partnerships with universities.

“We aim to think long term within the Research and Technology Development and Services team, but not too long term as the world is much more agile nowadays than it used to be.”

This means Vilenius’ team has to coordinate all of the activities taking place at the Test Mine in Tampere, provide a ‘steer’ on engineering services and safety processes needed to satisfy today’s and tomorrow’s requirements and regulations, drive cybersecurity and sustainability developments across Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions in the R&D phase, plus integrate the thinking between the rapidly-expanding Digital Mining Technologies division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and the R&D team.

And, as of a month ago, his team also coordinates testing at the new Surface Test Pit: a new surface mining test bed being developed 40 km northwest of the underground test mine.

This is all underwritten by the strategic priorities across the business area he primarily works in, as well as the Sandvik group goal of ensuring 25% of revenue comes from products that are less than five-years-old.

To tackle these tasks, he has a sandbox (soon to be two) that all equipment providers would like to have.

The Test Mine in Tampere comes with 6 km of tunnels at a depth of 40 m, with potential to expand further. Positioned beside a glass factory and close to the company’s rock drills factory, this test mine offers the company and its customers everything they need to make strategic business decisions in an environment that can, for instance, replicate the heat and humidity of a deep underground mine in South Africa, as well as the biggest and widest mine galleries the industry has on offer.

This facility – which has everything your typical underground mine has except a daily throughput target – allows the company to run all its underground drills through a rigorous testing procedure prior to customer dispatch. It also allows the various divisions under the business area a chance to test out prototypes, applications and products from time to time.

For the concept machines Sandvik is becoming renowned for, the test mine acts as a place to validate conceptual thinking in a real-life environment, helping engage customers in detailed discussions as to what on-board and off-board technology elements would provide the greatest value to their operations in the near-, medium- and long-term.

The aim is to replicate this process on surface with the Surface Test Pit, providing the catalyst the company needs to reach its ambitious surface drilling market goals over the next several years.

IM sat down with Vilenius to find out how he coordinates all this R&D work, and how day-to-day testing works from a practical perspective.

IM: I imagine your department is inundated with requests from various business lines when it comes to testing. How do you go about prioritising these requests and turning them into an easy-to-follow roadmap that can lead to commercial solutions?

JV: I’ll answer that by taking a step back.

We have a technology focus built on supporting both Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Sandvik group strategy. We then have roadmap items where we try to leverage technologies across many applications. These technology platforms are not always 100% suitable for both surface and underground mining, but there are elements that have similarities. For example, our latest electric concept surface rig uses the same thinking and philosophy used on other concept machines for underground. Of course, there are new elements included, but the platform thinking remains in place.

Jani Vilenius, Director of Research and Technology Development

Based on this, we have different forums and conversations with the divisions and the R&D heads, discussing together where we need to put the focus in terms of testing. There are, of course, differences in sizes of the division with those who invest a bit more in R&D entitled to more access, but we also have to remain strategic about how to capture the market attention within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions; knowing when and what to launch, as well as what developments will allow us to achieve the required technology momentum to support both our own internal goals and the goals set by our customers.

With all these technology developments – projects, concept machines, theoretical testing – there needs to be a value proposition. For the concept machines, for instance, there is value from a marketing perspective to showcase Sandvik as a technology leader, but there is also the value of engaging with customers in conversations that, through the actual machine development, allow them to comprehend what the technology may mean for them on a practical operational level.

This rapid agility – which I would say is unique to Sandvik – means we can receive valuable customer feedback on these concept machines before we commercialise certain elements. It allows us to effectively manage risk in a market calling out for technology breakthroughs to solve complex challenges.

IM: How many tests/trials can you have going on at the same time at the Test Mine?

JV: It varies. All underground drill products are tested there before they go out to customers, which puts a lot of load on the facility, while ensuring that when customers get these units, they have been run in an environment similar to a real-life mining operation.

Then we have new prototypes not under my remit that are tested ahead of becoming ‘products’, for example in underground drilling. Then, we have several technologies we test on a daily basis with different types of test benches and subsystems.

The reality is that we would not be as agile as we are without this test mine. It is not easy to go to a customer site and get permission to test equipment as it can negatively impact their (the customer’s) production. The ability to test at our own facility gives us a layer of comfort and confidence ahead of getting to the customer site.

We cannot try or test every application in our test mine, but those scenarios we do test provide real value.

IM: Are there plans to expand the test mine further?

JV: We have a roadmap for our test mine, but this is determined with a cost versus value equation. We don’t want to have empty tunnels without testing going on regularly.

We have all the opportunities to have a third, fourth and fifth level at the Test Mine. We have, for example, recently expanded into a new area to support our underground drill products to allow testing for that. This is a function of the offering getting wider and the need to expand the tunnels to make sure the new products receive the same testing opportunities as the existing ones.

We have expansion plans focused on automation and electrification too.

IM: Speaking of automation, is fully automated (without any personnel involved) battery swapping one of the ongoing projects you are working on?

JV: I can say we have some ideas on this. It is a topic that needs addressing and discussing as automation is coming on all our equipment and all processes in the future.

Fully automated battery swapping testing is, of course, part of the roadmap.

IM: I also understand that your team originally came up with the MineGame tool for modelling battery-electric equipment fleets and infrastructure. What was this designed for?

JV: Yes, this is a tool we needed to develop to support fleet-wide electrification. It is not designed to recommend the type of machine you will get; it is more about how you implement the many electric machines in the mine, what impact this has on infrastructure, how many tonnes we can get out of different fleets, etc.

This modelling tool gives comfort to customers about the value proposition of fleet-wide electrification, while also showcasing how new, developing technologies can be implemented in greenfield and brownfield mines.

This tool – on top of those from Deswik and Polymathian within the Digital Mining Technologies division – will be a game changer for us.

IM: What about the interaction of manual and autonomous equipment? Is this something you are already testing at the Test Mine?

JV: This is an ongoing requirement from customers, who look to always alleviate production stoppages.

It is not an easy challenge to address though. Everyone knows we want to get safe systems in place with a mixed fleet as not all machines are currently automated.

There is obviously a value case for this, and the Test Mine is a good place to test it out.

All I can conclude with is to say we have many tests going on in the Test Mine…

IM: A cheeky question, I know…What will be the next concept vehicle? You’ve set yourself a big challenge with bringing one of these out every year. How are you keeping up with this?

JV: We have smaller concepts, and we have bigger concepts on the table. We need to ensure we develop the technology to get those concepts done in a timely manner and in a way that, as I keep saying, provides value.

Maybe the next one coming out will be one of those smaller concepts.

Then, of course, we have wild ideas for underground equipment further down the line.

IM: The Digital Mining Technologies division is becoming a much bigger part of SMR. Do you see a point where you will start using the day-to-day data coming off sensors on your machines to revamp existing machine designs and come up with new machines?

JV: Yes, this is mandatory for us to do at some point in time. Integrating data from the field and systems into the engineering process is a tried and tested policy in many industries – some of which Sandvik are serving – so we need to do that more in mining.

The big step I foresee on this front is when we truly understand the value of using artificial intelligence in mining. Leveraging these tools will ensure there is a continual optimisation loop that goes throughout our software, hardware and services.

LKAB bolsters automated, electric Sandvik loading fleet at Kiruna iron ore mine

LKAB has ordered 12 Toro™ LH625iE cable-electric loaders and five Toro™ LH621i loaders, all equipped with Sandvik’s AutoMine® solution, for its Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

The order will more than double Kiruna’s electric Toro LH625iE fleet to 20, all of which will now be automated, and its total Sandvik loader fleet to 28 by the end of 2025, the OEM said.

The orders were booked in the June and December quarters of 2023, with deliveries scheduled from January 2024 through the end of 2025. The investment follows a study by Sandvik’s Trans4Mine team and calculations by Polymathian that identified opportunities for Kiruna to increase production by as much as 15% through automation of its large electric loader fleet.

“Sandvik and LKAB have a shared goal to boost production at the Kiruna mine,” Magnus Backe, General Manager LKAB Kiruna, said. “This is a true partnership to increase tonnage and improve safety through automation.”

Developed in 2020 as a collaboration between LKAB and Sandvik to replace Kiruna’s ageing fleet of 17 Sandvik LH625E loaders, the 25-t-payload Toro LH625iE is a revamped version of the industry’s largest-capacity underground loader.

“This investment supports our strategy towards a more electrified, autonomous and safer mine,” Joel Kangas, Mine Manager at LKAB, said. “We need to excavate an enormous volume of rock from depths of up to 1,300 m, and we will mine even deeper in the future. These depths present a prohibitive ventilation challenge for conventional equipment of the size we need to meet production demands. We worked closely on a daily basis with the Sandvik experts on site to ensure a seamless implementation.

“Ever since we put the first Toro LH625iE straight into a production environment more than three years ago, these loaders have been the backbone in our production system, exceeding our expectations, and we look forward to incorporating these new automated units into our operation.”

Kiruna was among the industry’s earliest adopters of cable-electric loading, trialling its first Sandvik unit in 1985. The oldest of Kiruna’s Sandvik LH625E loaders was 13 years old and had more than 40,000 production hours when what began as a project to modernise the loader and a side project to enhance its cable reeling system ultimately evolved into a completely upgraded loader model with the latest technology and new components.

Sandvik collaborated closely with LKAB to customise the design of Toro LH625iE to meet Kiruna’s needs. These included better energy efficiency than the original model with the same payload capacity and a larger, more ergonomic operator’s cabin with a turning seat that swivels 180°.

Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “[The] Toro LH625iE has proven itself at the Kiruna mine, delivering an unrivalled production capacity of up to 500 metric tons per hour. Not only are these automated loaders extremely productive, they improve underground conditions and operator comfort with less heat, fewer vibrations and lower noise levels. Our partnership will create value for LKAB for years to come, and we look forward to continuing to support LKAB’s goals to mine more sustainably and productively.”

The Toro LH625iE is 14 m long and features a 4-m-wide, 9 cu.m bucket and an energy-efficient, IE4 classified electric motor to deliver a low cost per tonne. It connects to Kiruna’s mine network via a 350-m trailing cable that enables an operating range of up to 700 m.

Sandvik to boost battery output with higher-capacity systems, standardised processes

Sandvik’s higher-capacity batteries – ones that could eliminate one battery swap every shift in some mining applications – will soon start to be installed across the company’s line of battery-electric vehicles, according to Brian Huff, Vice President of New Technologies for the Load and Haul Division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

Speaking to IM on the side lines of the OEM’s Innovation in Tunneling event in Tampere, Finland, Huff said the last of the previous generation of batteries were being manufactured in Camarillo, California, with the new generation battery packs lined up for future installations.

The company announced the introduction of these batteries for BEV loaders and trucks back in May, claiming they could deliver 36% more energy in the same envelope as the previous generation.

At that point, the company said they would be in production from the December quarter of 2023 and equipped as standard on all new Sandvik BEV loader and truck orders.

In addition to 36% longer runtime, customers can expect a lower cost per amp-hour compared with current-generation Artisan® battery packs. The increased capacity also improves charge acceptance, enabling faster downhill speeds and better efficiency.

Sandvik-Camarillo-BEV

Purpose-built for underground mining and designed and manufactured in-house by Sandvik, the new battery maintains the modularity and ruggedness of the existing pack and features significant design improvements.

Revamped housing and increased rigidity enhance structural strength, enabling the battery to better withstand shock and vibration. Laser-welded terminals provide a stronger connection with lower resistance, reducing energy loss and heat while improving efficiency and safety.

Top and bottom cooling plates improve cooling performance to slow cell degradation and extend life. Key design improvements also include better ingress protection against dust and moisture.

Brian Huff, Vice President of New Technology for the Load and Haul Division within Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions

The next-generation LFP battery cells are fully encapsulated in a non-conductive potting material, increasing thermal conductivity and reducing the risk of overheating and short circuit. Sandvik has also redesigned its battery management system for improved reliability and function. This safety feature monitors every cell’s temperature and voltage to ensure everything is within operational range.

Huff said the new battery modules and accompanying largely automated assembly process would enable the company to significantly scale up its offering from current capacity.

“The batteries will be assembled in a much more controlled environment than before, which will inherently lead to less human error throughout the process,” he said. “Laying this foundation will enable us to scale our battery production capacity with limited additional resources.”

Camarillo will be the first to benefit from the new assembly line, yet Huff said the in-construction plant in Malaysia will also benefit from the same disciplines to maximise productive capacity from the off.

Earlier this year, Sandvik said it was establishing a new production unit in Malaysia for manufacturing underground loaders and trucks to answer growing demand for its BEVs. Equipment production was slated to begin in the December quarter of 2023 following factory upgrades and other site improvements. It was expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 300 loaders and trucks and 500 battery cages by 2030.

Sandvik unveils second battery-electric concept surface drill rig

As decarbonisation efforts accelerate across the surface mining sector, Sandvik has unveiled its second battery-electric concept surface drill rig.

The battery-electric vehicle is the first in its size class, capable of drilling DTH holes up to 229 mm in diameter, and blending the autonomy of battery with the continuous endurance of power cable, Sandvik says.

Electric surface rigs have long depended solely on a tethered cable as the power source. With its second battery-electric surface concept, Sandvik says it is showcasing the latest technology advancements to push the potential of more sustainable surface drilling.

“With the industry shifting towards intelligent, autonomous and emission-free equipment, surface drill rigs need to be reinvented,” Lauri Laihanen, Vice President, R&D, Surface Drilling Division, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “This new concept rig elevates electric surface drilling.”

The intelligent DTH rig’s battery pack provides power for up to one hour of drilling or up to seven hours of tramming. The battery is primarily intended for tramming and drilling individual holes while the bulk of a pattern is carried out via power from its 180-m tethered cable.

“The battery means greater freedom and flexibility and more efficient use of time, as the rig can drill immediately while the cable is being set up,” Laihanen said.

Sandvik designed the cable setup to be as effortless as possible. The cable tightens itself automatically according to the direction the rig is moved and is wound on a single layer, which enables a thinner, more manageable tether, it says. An operating voltage as high as 1,000 V also helps enable a lighter cable.

While Sandvik’s latest pioneering concept introduces battery-electric operation to a larger size class DTH drill, its subsystems and technologies are all tried and tested, mine-proven and energy-efficient, according to the company.

Sandvik introduced its smaller top hammer battery-electric concept surface drill rig in May 2022, developed to support more sustainable drilling in construction applications.

“Testing of the smaller concept with our construction customers has been very successful and produced valuable feedback,” Laihanen said. “We’ve learned a lot, and now it’s time to apply these learnings to mining, which has its own unique challenges.”

Sandvik will test its latest concept drill rig in real-world surface mining environments in close collaboration with mining customers.

“We need to identify the challenges, learn from them and share the knowledge,” Laihanen said. “The shift towards more sustainable mining will change the entire operating environment, and with the learnings from our latest concept rig, we can produce more value for our customers on their decarbonisation journey. We’re excited to write the next chapter in surface drilling together.”

Sandvik recognises OEM ‘first’ with AutoMine for Underground Drills introduction

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is introducing AutoMine® for Underground Drills, a cutting-edge tele-remote solution that, it says, enables operators to remotely and simultaneously control and supervise multiple automated Sandvik underground drills, increasing efficiency, safety and overall productivity in mining operations.

With AutoMine for Underground Drills, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has become the first OEM to introduce a unified traffic management system for drills, loaders and trucks, according to the company.

Jouni Koppanen, Product Line Manager, Underground Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “Sandvik’s holistic approach to integrate drills, loaders and trucks into the AutoMine system will set a new standard for underground mining efficiency. AutoMine for Underground Drills is another milestone in our commitment to revolutionising out customers’ mining operations. This tele-remote system redefines underground drilling autonomy and safety standards.”

The new offering is available for Sandvik longhole drills (DL) series machines, offering three levels of teleremote operations: single drill, drill fleet and machine fleet. Operators have the flexibility to choose between operating from an AutoMine chair or console station, depending on which offering level best suits their operational requirements.

The AutoMine for Underground Drills teleremote system includes advanced tramming capabilities, allowing seamless control and coordination of drills, loaders and trucks operating in the same area with sophisticated traffic management, the company added.

Prioritising safety, AutoMine incorporates an enhanced Access Protector System. This safety feature is designed to prevent personnel from entering the machine area while the system is operating in automation mode or remote mode. In addition, it also has an advanced traffic management system that enables operators to easily control the traffic flow of multi-machine operations and handle complex operating situations, resulting in greater flexibility and mining output.

Sami Anttila, Product Manager, Longhole Production Drilling at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “We have developed this system to offer our customers a deeper integration and cooperation in between the underground drills, the loading and hauling machines and especially the AutoMine environment. This means added value through improvements in machine and fleet flexible utilisation in remote operation.”

Sandvik’s history of providing proven underground solutions with automation for loading and hauling dates back to 2004. Today, more than 1,000 underground and surface units operate worldwide at more than 100 customer sites, underlining Sandvik’s commitment to delivering reliable and innovative AutoMine solutions for mining.

Sandvik to build largest US mining facility to date in Elko, Nevada

To better serve its mining customers in the United States, Sandvik is investing more than $50 million in the company’s largest US facility to date, in Elko, Nevada.

Construction will begin before the end of this year and the new facility is expected to open in the March quarter of 2025. It will cover 14 acres (5.67 ha) and replace the company’s existing Elko office and separate warehouse.

The $51.4 million investment includes larger warehouse and workshop facilities. The new 31,250-sq.ft (2,900-sq.m) warehouse will nearly triple the size of the existing Elko warehouse, while the workshop will grow from 17,800 sq.ft (1,650 sq.m) to 25,000 sq.ft (2,325 sq.m). The two-story facility will also include 13,800 sq.ft (1,280 sq.m) of office and training space.

Designed with circularity, waste reduction and carbon footprint top of mind, the completely new facility will include dedicated infrastructure to support battery-electric vehicles, a training centre, welding areas, a painting booth and a simulator area. The facility will accommodate the current 85 employees with additional capacity for training and growth.

Victor Tapia, Vice President, Sales Area USA, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “This facility will be our largest of several branches serving the US mining market. We are creating a new, modern work environment for our people and, in turn, for our customers, who operate in rapidly changing market conditions with fast-evolving technology. The new building will facilitate increased collaboration opportunities and enable us to better serve our customers for years to come.”