Sandvik partners with LKAB to trial BEV truck and loader

LKAB, operator of the world’s largest underground iron ore mine, will trial a Sandvik TH550B battery-electric truck and Sandvik LH518B battery-electric loader in northern Sweden. Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and LKAB will partner for a 12-month collaborative trial of the third-generation battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) under the mining company’s project to set a new world standard for sustainable underground mining.

LKAB’s famed Kiruna mine was among the industry’s earliest adopters of cable-electric loading, and the company is no stranger to the sustainability and productivity benefits of electric mining. Kiruna trialed its first cable-electric loader from Sandvik in 1985 and has hundreds of thousands of hours operating Sandvik’s 25-tonne cable-electric loaders.

“With no exhaust emissions, less heat, fewer vibrations and lower noise levels, electric motors improve underground conditions and operator comfort while considerably reducing ventilation requirements,” said Andreas Östdahl, Key Account Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. “Our BEVs provide even more freedom and flexibility than our well-proven cable-electric equipment, and we’re proud to support LKAB’s mission to implement pioneering technology and mine more sustainably.”

Widely considered one of the world’s most modern underground operations, Kiruna has produced nearly 1.5 billion tonnes of crude iron ore since mining began in 1898. In anticipation of future main levels at Kiruna and the Malmberget mine exceeding depths of 2,000 meters by 2030, LKAB is developing new methods and smarter solutions for sustainable mining at great depths.

LKAB will test Sandvik’s BEVs under its collaboration project with Swedish industrials ABB, Combitech, Epiroc and Sandvik that aims to develop a new global standard for mining at depth that is safe, carbon-dioxide-free and cost-effective. Such solutions will rely on technologies including automation and electrification.

“We are looking forward to receiving the machines and starting to test them,” says Per Brännman, mine manager of the Malmberget underground mine. “These tests are important for us to initiate, as we will gradually move to carbon-dioxide-free equipment in our mines. Battery-electric and autonomous equipment will undoubtedly play a vital role in ensuring improved productivity and safety in LKAB’s mines in the years and decades ahead.”

As third-generation BEVs, Sandvik TH550B 50-tonne truck and Sandvik LH518B 18-tonne loader have been designed from the ground up entirely around their battery systems and electric drivelines to fully leverage on the battery system possibilities. Both the loader and truck feature Sandvik’s patented self-swapping battery system, including the AutoSwap and AutoConnect functions, improving equipment availability and safety. Sandvik offers the industry’s fastest BEV “pit stop,” enabling its equipment to return to operation significantly sooner than ‘fast-charge’ mining BEVs. In less than six minutes, the equipment disconnects and puts down a depleted battery, trams to pick up a new one and automatically connects while the operator controls the swapping without leaving the equipment cabin, all without need for overhead cranes, forklifts or major changes to mine infrastructure.

The deal includes Battery as a Service by Sandvik, which helps mines save on the startup costs of switching to BEVs. Sandvik retains ownership of batteries and chargers, takes responsibility for their maintenance and assures their availability. Sandvik technicians ensure batteries remain in optimal condition throughout their long service lives, and when the batteries are no longer suited to the mining environment, Sandvik makes sure they are repurposed or recycled responsibly.

Sandvik introduced Sandvik LH518B in September 2020. With a payload rating of 18 tonnes, it is the mining industry’s highest-capacity battery-powered loader. Sandvik unveiled Sandvik TH550B, the successor to its Z50 truck, in Las Vegas in September at MINExpo INTERNATIONAL® 2021. Both models combine the best of two worlds: Sandvik’s half-century of experience designing and manufacturing equipment for the underground mining industry, and the innovative Artisan™ battery packs and electric drivelines.

The trial is planned to start next year, with Sandvik TH550B to be delivered during the second half of 2022 and Sandvik LH518B expected in early 2023.

Malmberget, Sweden, December 13, 2021

For more information, please contact:
Andreas Östdahl
Key Account Manager, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
tel. +46702608309

Sandvik Group
Sandvik is a high-tech and global engineering group offering products and services that enhance customer productivity, profitability and safety. We hold world-leading positions in selected areas – tools and tooling systems for metal cutting; equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining industry and rock excavation within the construction industry; products in advanced stainless steels and special alloys as well as products for industrial heating. In 2020 the Group had approximately 37,000 employees and revenues of about 86 billion SEK in more than 160 countries within continuing operations.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a business area within the Sandvik Group and a global leading supplier of equipment and tools, parts, service and digital solutions and sustainability-driving technologies for the mining and construction industries. Application areas include rock drilling, rock cutting, loading and hauling, tunneling and quarrying. In 2020, sales were approximately 33.6 billion SEK with about 12,500 employees within continuing operations.