New Gold’s New Afton mine ordered four Sandvik LH518B battery-electric loaders, like the above. (Photo: Sandvik)

New Gold 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 that also operate 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, leadership at the mine said.

“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 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 (mt), the LH518B is the mining industry’s highest-capacity battery-powered loader, Sandvik said. The LHD features Sandvik’s self-swapping battery system, which, Sandvik said, is the industry’s fastest BEV “pit stop.”

The system allows Sandvik BEV equipment to return to operation significantly sooner than competitor fast-charge mining BEVs, the supplier said. 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. The operator controls the swapping without leaving the cabin. No overhead cranes or forklifts are required.

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

Separately Sandvik reported Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. deployed AutoMine at Hishikari underground gold mine to increase productivity, safety and cost control. The mine commissioned AutoMine Lite on a Toro LH307 loader in December.

Leadership at the mine said the solution will help it achieve goals to produce resources with advanced technology by 2030. “By implementing advanced technology and innovation, we aim to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve safety,” said Hidenobu Yabu, manger. “Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our long-term focus.”