Swedish mining major to use Volvo electric trucks for heavy underground transport

In mining environments, the electric trucks can deliver several big advantages – including no exhaust emissions, a safer workplace, and quieter working conditions.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 22 Mar 2023 Views icon3710 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Swedish mining major to use Volvo electric trucks for heavy underground transport

The Swedish mining group Boliden is becoming one of the first in the world to start using battery-electric trucks for heavy underground transport starting 2023. In mining environments, the electric trucks can deliver several big advantages – including no exhaust emissions, a safer workplace, and quieter working conditions.

The mining industry is today going through a period of rapid change, with many players shifting to more sustainable production methods to provide metals with a lower climate footprint. Just like in many other mines, exhaust gases from diesel vehicles are responsible for the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions from Boliden's mines. The Swedish mining company states that it is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and to achieve its climate goals, electrification of transport will play a critical role.

The new cooperation agreement between Boliden and Volvo Trucks means that two heavy, electric Volvo trucks will be used in Boliden’s Kankberg mine, outside Skelleftea in northern Sweden. If all trucks in the mine were to be electric, the CO2 emissions from the mine could be reduced by more than 25 percent.

“This is an exciting collaboration in an environment with very tough demands; steep slopes, heavy loads and humid air that wears on the vehicles,” said Jessica Lindholm, project manager at Volvo Trucks. “The collaboration with Boliden will give us valuable knowledge about the performance of electric trucks when driven underground, and provide answers to questions about how the driveline and batteries are affected. Reduced carbon dioxide emissions for mining transport also means that we, indirectly, will reduce our own CO2 emissions, because the mining industry's raw materials are used in our trucks.”

The first truck to serve the Kankberg mine, a Volvo FH Electric, will be used to transport rock bolts and other equipment down into the mine and will be put into service in 2023. Based on the experience with the first truck, another  FH Electric will later be put into operation and used for underground transport of rock and ore.

“We see the collaboration with Volvo as a fantastic opportunity to push the electric technology forward and at the same time learn how to adapt our operations for a transition to fossil-free underground transport. A major benefit of the trucks is that they will contribute to a more sustainable mine, both in terms of emissions and also the working environment for our employees,” commented Dennis Forslund, project manager at Boliden. “In addition, the total amount of energy consumed in the mine will be lower as electric drive is more energy efficient than a diesel engine, and it is possible to capture the electricity regenerated during engine braking on downhill slopes.”

Volvo Trucks offers the industry's widest range of electric trucks, with six electric truck models in series production, and is the market leader in heavy electric trucks in Europe and the USA. The company's electric trucks can cover many different transport needs, ranging from urban distribution and refuse disposal to regional transport and construction traffic. Volvo's goal is that 50% of its new trucks sold in 2030 should be electric.

Boliden is not the first Swedish mining company to use electric trucks. In September 2022, Mining company Kaunis Iron announced an investment of half-a-billion SEK (Rs 373 crore) in new electric trucks. Together with Volvo Trucks, heavy electric trucks of 74 tons were to be tested in a project to determine the future deployment plan.

In India, Hindustan Zinc has deployed Normet's SmartDrive EV heavy-duty truck for its underground mining operations. The Vedanta Group company plans to invest over Rs 8,200 crore to convert its 900 diesel-powered mining vehicles into BEVs.

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