Gold Fields’ St Ives operation will become the first Australian mine to receive the new Sandvik LH518B 18-tonne BEV (battery electric vehicle) underground loader. The operation will also receive an Artisan Z50 50-tonne BEV truck, and both vehicles will work in the Hamlet North mine as part of a major production study over the next two years.
The battery electric technology used by the vehicles eliminates underground emissions and significantly reduces heat and noise compared to diesel vehicles. Sandvik’s AutoSwap self-swapping battery system allows for a fresh battery to be installed in under six minutes for the Z50 and LH518B, delivering a major advantage over ‘fast-recharge’ battery vehicles.
Gold Fields’ Australia operations vice president Graeme Ovens said the company had been interested in exploring the potential of BEVs for a long time.
“We travelled around the world looking at different suppliers and we came to the conclusion that Sandvik was ahead of the market with their concepts and what they were doing,” he said.
If the trial delivers strong results, Ovens expects such vehicles will become widely used across Gold Fields’ operations. Gold Fields is due to take delivery of the Z50 in the next few weeks and the LH518B in December.