Sandvik and Barrick have signed a partnership agreement for trialing and enhancing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for underground hard rock mining. During a three-year production trial, Sandvik will deploy four Artisan Z50 BEV trucks at the Turquoise Ridge gold mine, part of the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture (JV). Barrick is the operator of the JV, which is the single-largest gold-producing complex in the world, forecast to produce a total of 3.4 million to 3.65 million ounces (oz) of gold during 2020.

With a 50-metic-ton (55-ton) payload capacity, the Z50 haul truck integrates a battery electric powertrain with the features of a modern underground haul truck. The Z50 truck is equipped with AutoSwap, a self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack. Changing the battery only takes about six minutes, and it can be done in a passing bay or old re-muck bay with no overhead cranes or external infrastructure needed, the company said.

In phase 1 trials, Sandvik said the Z50 already achieved more than 1,400 hours of production with more than 1,400 loads. It reached production operating up to 18 hours per day. Speeds of more than 10 km/h (6 mph) were also observed on the ramp to the tip.

Sandvik said some of the key performance indicators in the new partnership will include the performance of the BEV technology in a production environment, mechanical availability, average lifecycle cost and overall production cost.

“This partnership with Sandvik is exciting and will give us first-hand experience in BEV technology in our own production environment,” Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow said. “It is a significant step to furthering our BEV strategy across the group.”

Henrik Ager, president Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said the partnership allows Sandvik the possibility to prove the performance of its technology

“The purely battery-powered truck helps to reduce heat and emissions underground, helping mines reach their sustainability targets and reduce ventilation costs,” Ager said. “This raises the bar for what is possible and enables an all-new level of production and cost reduction for underground hard rock mines.”

A dedicated site project team will be jointly working with the Barrick operations team during the trial period to ensure that all data is captured and the experience from both Sandvik and Barrick is used to ensure the uptime and productivity targets are met.