British Columbia mine grows its fleet of electric Sandvik loaders

British Columbia mine grows fleet of electric Sandvik loaders

New Gold has ordered four more Sandvik LH518B battery-electric loaders for its New Afton mine in British Columbia. The new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) will join the first-ever Sandvik LH518B, which New Afton trialed in late 2020 before purchasing in February 2021, and two Sandvik Z50 BEV trucks also operating at the mine.

Located approximately 350 kilometres northeast of Vancouver and 10 kilometres from regional hub Kamloops in south-central British Columbia, the New Afton underground block cave gold-copper mine was among the industry’s earliest adopters of BEVs, which have contributed to the mine’s sustainability and productivity goals.

During more than two years in operation, the first Sandvik LH518B has helped New Afton improve cycle times while reducing heat, noise and greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve tested and proven battery-electric technology for larger-scale adoption at New Afton, and now we’re taking the next step in our journey and growing our BEV fleet,” said Peter Prochotsky, New Afton mine manager. “We’re looking forward to receiving the new loaders. We anticipate battery-electric and autonomous equipment will continue to play a vital role in improving safety and productivity at our block cave in the years to come.”

Sandvik plans to deliver the first new Sandvik LH518B in 2023, with the remaining units to be delivered by 2025.

As a purely battery-powered loader, Sandvik LH518B will continue supporting New Gold’s efforts to improve sustainability by reducing greenhouse gas emissions underground.

With a payload rating of 18 tonnes, the Sandvik LH518B is the mining industry’s highest-capacity battery-powered loader. As a third-generation BEV, it has been designed from the ground up entirely around its battery system and electric driveline.

According to Sadvik, its LH518B integrates well with most underground fleets and operations, as it does not require any major changes to mine infrastructure.

The loader features Sandvik’s patented self-swapping battery system, including the AutoSwap and AutoConnect functions, improving equipment safety and availability.

Sandvik claims to offer the industry’s fastest BEV “pit stop,” enabling its equipment to return to operation significantly sooner than ‘fast-charge’ mining BEVs. In less than six minutes, the self-swapping system disconnects and lowers a depleted battery, trams to pick up a fully charged battery and automatically connects it while the operator controls the swapping without leaving the equipment cabin, all without need for overhead cranes or forklifts.