AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam gold mine in Western Australia is playing host to a “world-first” trial of the Sandvik TH665B, the largest battery-electric underground mining truck.
The truck boasts an electric driveline delivering 630kW, or 858hp, and hosts a 354kWh lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) battery.
The prototype BEV truck is capable of moving a maximum payload of 65,000kg and produces no emissions while generating 80% less heat – a potential gamechanger in underground mining situations.
Andrew Dawson, business line manager for load and haul at Sandvik, said: “There are major benefits from Sandvik BEVs for operator health and safety thanks to reduced diesel particulates, less noise and vibration, and a reduction in heat generation.”
Moreover, the TH665B is also expected to operate at up to 25% faster on a 1:7 ramp as compared to regular diesel trucks.
The trial of the Sandvik TH665B got underway on September 14 under a three-party agreement between the mine’s owner AngloGold Ashanti, hard rock underground contract miner Barminco, and Sandvik.
Another important key feature of the Sandvik TH665B is its patented battery self-swapping system, “which makes the battery changing process extremely fast and easy, usually taking only three minutes,” said Dawson.
“It also allows the operator to stay in the cabin during the process, and there’s no need for major infrastructure like overhead cranes.”
All participants in the trial are actively seeking solutions to decarbonise. Barminco’s ASX-listed parent company, Perenti, for example, is partnering with a number of partners in an effort to deliver fully electrified, zero CO2, and zero diesel particulate mines.
“We believe BEVs like this one have a critical role to play in the electric mines of the future and supporting decarbonization,” said Darren Kwok, head of electrification and technology for Perenti.
“Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) not only have the potential to lower carbon emissions, they can also improve the underground environment for mine workers and boost the efficiency of operations.”
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.