Epiroc has announced it recently received an order for its Scooptram ST14 Battery and Minetruck MT42 Battery mining equipment from LKAB which will use the machines in a test mine in Sweden. LKAB is testing the use of electric-powered equipment in its mine as part of an effort to create more sustainable and carbon dioxide (CO2)free underground mining operations.
The research is part of the SUM (Sustainable Underground Mining) collaborative project. Several participating companies are working together to test and develop more sustainable methods of mining at great depths. This includes the research of new methods and smarter solutions for the future.
Use of electric equipment like that from Epiroc helps meet these goals as the machines produce zero emissions, thus making for more sustainable operations while also increasing the health and safety of those working in the mine.
"Our goal is to develop intelligent, highly productive and CO2-free machine systems," said Niklas Fors, Senior Project Manager Global Strategic Projects and Alliances at Epiroc, in the company's press release announcing the order. "We are proud to deliver the world’s greenest machines to LKAB. What we are developing makes a difference not only for underground operations, but for the planet as such."
"LKAB is no stranger to electric machines in mining," said Thomas Kammerby, Senior Project Leader at LKAB, in the Epiroc press release. "LHD's have been running electrically (cable powered) for quite some years. LKAB is striving to eliminate the use of fossil-based fuels as soon as possible and is therefore pushing to start testing alternatives to primarily diesel engines. Since LKAB always prioritizes 'safety first' it is imperative that we take part in the development work around battery machines to understand all aspects of e.g. logistics, performance, handling of fire hazards."
Kammerby continued, "The alliance setup provides early access to battery machines and allows us to test several applications in a controlled fashion providing high confidence regarding the design of future CO2-free mining."
SUM strives to make mining cleaner
Partner companies in the SUM project include LKAB, Epiroc, Combitech, ABB and Sandvik. Their goal is to create solutions which enable underground mining operations to be CO2 free, digitized and autonomous. This will help to improve safety and operational efficiency, as well as environmental impacts of underground mining.
The five companies will create a test facility where new technology can be developed and tested to achieve these goals in a real mining environment. This will better enable them to create solutions that meet the needs of the industry. The test bed will be built in LKAB's underground mines in Kiruna and Malmberget, Sweden. A virtual test mine will also be used to aid development efforts.
Projects like this which bring together several members of an industry help to ensure all necessary development and use cases are taken into consideration. They also help to further advance developments and bring them to market faster.