Swedish engineering group Sandvik and mining major Barrick have signed an agreement for trialling battery electric vehicles for ‘underground hard rock mining’.

Under the partnership agreement, Sandvik will trial four Artisan Z50 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at Barrick’s Turquoise Ridge underground mine in Nevada for a period of three years.

The two companies have agreed on a three-year production trial of the fleet at the underground mine.

The Turquoise Ridge gold mine is part of the Nevada Gold Mines, which is a joint venture (JV) between Barrick (61.5%) and Newmont (38.5%).

It is expected to produce 3.4 million ounces (Moz) to 3.65Moz of gold this year.

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Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow said: “We are always looking at ways to improve our performance, both in terms of sustainability and operational efficiency.

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

The Z50 BEV truck features a 50t payload capacity and includes Sandvik’s patented self-swapping system ‘AutoSwap’.

Sandvik noted that phase one of the trials has seen the Z50 achieve more than 1,400 hours of production, operating for 18 hours a day.

The Swedish engineering group will allocate a site project team to work with the mining major’s operations team during the trial in order to ensure the capture of the data and also to ensure that the production targets are achieved.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology president Henrik Ager said: “It gives us the possibility to prove the performance of our BEV technology. The purely battery-powered truck helps to reduce heat and emissions underground, helping mines reach their sustainability targets and reduce ventilation costs.

“This raises the bar for what is possible and enables an all-new level of production and cost reduction for underground hard rock mines.”

Last month, Sandvik agreed to sell its exploration business to Drillman, a subsidiary of the M Group of companies.