Volvo electric trucks for underground mining
By Mike Brezonick21 March 2023
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 through a new cooperation with Volvo Trucks.
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. And electric trucks can can deliver several advantages – including no exhaust emissions, a safer workplace, and quieter working conditions.
As with many other mines, exhaust gases from diesel vehicles are responsible for the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions from Boliden’s mines. The company is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030, and for Boliden 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 Skellefteå 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%, the company said.
“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 Volvo 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,” said Dennis Forslund, project manager at Boliden. “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.
“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.”