Sandvik, AngloGold Ashanti and Perenti-owned hard rock underground contract miner Barminco has commenced trials of the Sandvik TH665B battery-electric underground mining truck prototype at the Sunrise Dam mine near Laverton in Western Australia.

The trial, which started on 14 September 2023, forms part of a three-party agreement between mine owner AngloGold Ashanti, Barminco and Sandvik.

The 65-tonne Sandvik vehicle is designed to produce zero diesel emissions underground and generate less heat than a comparable conventional truck.

Sandvik load and haul business line manager Andrew Dawson said: “The data that we gain from seeing the prototype interacting with Australian conditions will be invaluable as Sandvik continues to develop its battery-electric range and as the Sandvik TH665B moves into commercial production phase.”

Sandvik said that four local technicians at the site will provide support for the mining vehicle during the trial period.

Perenti electrification and technology head Darren Kwok said: “In this trial, two areas we will be monitoring closely are the ramp speed and the contribution to emissions reduction. Sandvik has said that a fully loaded Sandvik TH665B will be up to 25% faster on a 1:7 ramp than a conventional diesel truck – so we will be keen to see that in action.”

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The vehicle uses lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO₄ or LFP) battery technology and features AutoSwap, a self-swapping system.

Dawson added: “It is equipped with AutoSwap, our patented self-swapping system, which makes the battery changing process extremely fast and easy, usually taking only three minutes. It also allows the operator to stay in the cabin during the process, and there is no need for major infrastructure like overhead cranes.”

AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam gold mine produces 2.7 million tonnes of ore annually.