Miners continue to expand use of battery-powered vehicles underground

2022-04-22

As miners strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many, particularly those with underground mines, are beginning to invest in battery-powered and electric-powered mining fleets. As of March 2022, GlobalData was tracking 157 electric loaders (LHDs) and 45 electric trucks operating in underground mines across the globe, with the largest combined population of electric LHDs and trucks in Canada (76), followed by Russia (52), Sweden (35) and Australia (14). This total of 202 compares with a total of 182 in June 2021.

By company, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited – the new company formed from the merger of Kirkland Lake Gold and Agnico Eagle – has the largest combined number of LHDs and trucks in operation with 49, including 27 battery or electric-powered LHDs and 17 battery-powered underground mining trucks at its Macassa mine in Canada. It is followed by Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB with 34, ARMZ Uranium Holding Co and Vale with 20 each. The main suppliers are Sandvik (including Artisan) and Epiroc, with a combined share of over 70% of the machines in use.

Not only does the use of battery power and electric power reduce greenhouse gases, but it also significantly reduces ventilation costs, with 40-50% less ventilation required with battery/electric-powered machines compared to those running on diesel. There are also lower cooling requirements, less noise pollution and lower maintenance costs, with battery vehicles having 25% or so fewer parts compared with diesel propulsion systems.

Number of electric LHDs & trucks operated by miner, 2020 – 2022

Source: Development of Electric Mining Vehicles in Surface and Underground Mining, 2022

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