After logging 60,000 hours on its first generation electric vehicles, Swedish mining equipment manufacturer Epiroc launched its second generation of electric mining vehicles this month alongside news that it would be electrifying its entire lineup in the next 5 years.
The new lineup includes some of the largest electric vehicles on the planet, though they won’t spend much time up here on the surface.
“We are leading the charge towards sustainability in mining through battery electric, zero-emission equipment,” says Stevan Topalovic, Vice President Marketing Underground Rock Excavation division at Epiroc. “At Power Change Days, we proudly present our second generation electric battery 14 and 18-tonne loaders, our 42-tonne truck and our mid-sized drilling family including face drilling, production drilling and rock reinforcement rigs.”
The new lineup builds on Epiroc’s first generation electric mining vehicles and seek to help operators lower the cost of extracting materials from underground by digging into two of the largest expenses associated with running a mine: diesel for its vehicles and the ventilation system.
Converting fleets to electric vehicles directly impact both of these as fleet operators are able to utilize lower cost electricity to power their vehicles, thus eliminating both the overhead expense of diesel and the demand on the ventilation system.
Removing that diesel exhaust from the mines will help operators to slash ventilation budgets, where as much as 40% of an underground mine’s energy budget goes, according to TT News. As ventilation systems are typically installed alongside major expansions, electric vehicles will not be able to save operators of existing mines as much money, so the primary target for the new vehicles is new mines.
The new vehicles will be powered by a battery pack from Northvolt AB with support from ABB on the development of its second-generation vehicles to ensure that they can hold up to the rigors of underground mining.
Congrats to @epirocgroup for the successful launch of their new generation electric machines for zero-emission mining powered by Northvolt battery systems! #TheFutureOfEnergy pic.twitter.com/KPxOf6NrIG
— Northvolt (@northvolt) November 15, 2018
The new electrified variants will tip the scales at nearly double the price of existing options, but the price gap is recouped through lower operational expenses on fuel and energy as well as the potential to save on capital expenses up front by scaling down the size of the ventilation system.
To help customers get over the hump of the initial purchase, Epiroc will allow customers to lease the batteries of the new vehicles separately. This splits them out from the initial capital purchase and rolls the cost right into the monthly expense line item allocated for fuel. Assuming they can make these two numbers tie, the lease option could allow mine operators to upgrade to electric vehicles without nary a blip on the financial radar.
The new energy being injected into the mining industry shows just how competitive electric vehicles can be across disparate segments of the market. That percentage is only set to increase as the cost of finite diesel fuel continues its inevitable climb while the price of long lifespan, high energy density batteries continues to fall as the manufacturing world barely starts the long ramp up of production to meet the near-term need of the world’s automobile manufacturers.