New Gold has ordered four 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 it in February 2021, and two Sandvik Z50 BEV trucks also operating at the mine. The transaction is valued at $13 million.

Located approximately 10 km from Kamloops in south-central British Columbia, the New Afton underground block cave gold-copper mine was among the industry’s earliest adopters of BEVs. During more than two years in operation, the first Sandvik LH518B has helped New Afton improve cycle times while reducing heat, noise and 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.”

With a payload rating of 18 metric tons, the LH518B is the mining industry’s highest-capacity battery-powered loader, according to Sandvik. The LHD features Sandvik’s patented self-swapping battery system. Sandvik claims to have 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.

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