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Western Australia’s Sunrise Dam mine has embarked on a world-first trial: introducing the Sandvik TH665B, a prototype 65-metric-ton battery-electric vehicle (BEV), to its gold mining activities.

The cutting-edge truck features a robust electric driveline delivering a remarkable 630kW (858hp) and houses a powerful 354kWh lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) battery. With a maximum payload capacity of 65,000kg, the prototype battery-electric vehicle (BEV) stands out for its ability to operate emission-free, producing 80% less heat — a potential breakthrough for underground mining operations.

Andrew Dawson, the Business Line Manager for Load and Haul at Sandvik, highlighted the substantial advantages for operator health and safety.

“There are major benefits from Sandvik BEVs for operator health and safety thanks to reduced diesel particulates, less noise and vibration, and a reduction in heat generation,” he said.

Moreover, the Sandvik TH665B is anticipated to operate up to 25% faster on a 1:7 ramp compared to traditional diesel trucks, providing a boost in efficiency.

The trial of the Sandvik TH665B commenced last September 14 through a collaborative effort under a three-party agreement between the mine’s owner, AngloGold Ashanti, hard rock underground contract miner Barminco, and Sandvik.

A standout feature of the Sandvik TH665B is its patented battery self-swapping system, allowing for an exceptionally fast and easy battery-changing process, typically taking only three minutes.

“It also allows the operator to stay in the cabin during the process, and there’s no need for major infrastructure like overhead cranes,” says Mr. Dawson.

All stakeholders involved in the trial are actively seeking sustainable solutions for decarbonization. Perenti, the ASX-listed parent company of Barminco, is collaborating with various partners to achieve fully electrified, zero CO2, and zero diesel particulate mines.

Darren Kwok, Head of Electrification and Technology for Perenti, emphasized the pivotal role of BEVs in the future of mining.

“Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) not only have the potential to lower carbon emissions, they can also improve the underground environment for mine workers and boost the efficiency of operations,” Mr, Kwok said.

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