Electric vehicles are reaching global markets far and wide — and deep. Swedish mining equipment maker Epiroc AB now aims to electrify all its underground machines within five years.
The manufacturer on Wednesday launched a new range, including what it says is the largest battery-powered vehicle for mining below the Earth’s surface: a 42 ton-capacity truck that can haul blasted rock through narrow tunnels. It’s part of the company’s latest series of mobile excavators, including drill rigs and loaders, designed to cut emissions and lower energy costs for miners.
Reducing the use of diesel fuel could have significant cost benefits for the industry: as much as 40 percent of an underground mine’s energy outlay is spent on powering gigantic ventilation systems to remove pollutants from tunnels. The push for electrified mining got a further boost last month from an industry lobby, the International Council on Mining and Metals, which plans to minimize the impact of underground diesel exhaust by 2025.
“Next year we will start production of an 18-ton loader and we will start offering medium-sized drill rigs with battery options,” Sami Niiranen, who has been appointed to lead Epiroc’s underground equipment unit, said in Orebro, Sweden.
Epiroc, which is using power packs assembled by Northvolt AB, said the upfront cost of buying a battery-powered vehicle would be about twice that of a conventional one. While this is compensated by lower fuel and energy costs down the road, the initial pain could be prohibitive.
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