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Swedish Mining Group Boliden Is Getting Electric Trucks From Volvo For Underground Mining Operations

Campus-based operations such as mines are some of the best places for utilizing electric vehicles. The nature of their operations often revolve around regular, repetitive routes at well known times and intervals, making it fairly straightforward when it comes to setting up charging infrastructure onsite and managing fleet charging. It’s safe to say drivers of heavy electric trucks in these environments will not be too worried about range anxiety even with full loads of heavy rocks.

In underground operations, electric trucks also have the added advantage of no exhaust emissions as well as providing a much quieter working environment. In some exciting news, 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 this year.

The mining industry is today going through a period of rapid change as the world places more emphasis on ESG matters.  A lot of players in the mining industry are shifting to more sustainable production methods to provide metals with a lower climate footprint. Exhaust gases from diesel vehicles are responsible for the majority of the carbon dioxide emissions from Boliden’s mines, as is the case in the mining sector in general. Boliden is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 and therefore the electrification of transport will play a critical role for Boliden to achieve its climate goals.

The new cooperation agreement between Boliden and Volvo Trucks will start with two heavy electric Volvo trucks which 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%.

“This is an exciting collaboration in an environment with very tough demands; steep slopes, heavy loads and humid air that wears on the vehicles,” says 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. 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. 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,” comments 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 says it 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 US. 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.

With Volvo trucks having started deliveries of heavy electric trucks in Morocco and soon to start deliveries of heavy electric trucks in South Africa in May of this year, the mining sector in Africa provides another huge opportunity for Volvo to provide its range of electric trucks. The mining sector is pretty huge in places like Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Large mining companies in these countries have already started installing large solar PV plants to help cut down their diesel and heavy fuel oil bills. It would be great to see these firms start to add heavy electric trucks as well very soon.

 

Image from Volvo Trucks

 
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