The focus of everyone’s attention was undoubtedly on Sandvik’s 65 tonne TH665B battery electric vehicle (BEV), introduced to the African market en route to Australia for intensive site testing.
According to Jakob Rutqvist, Vice-President Strategy and Commercial at Sandvik, this innovation takes mining decisively into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Many industries are well advanced in the technological trajectory of digitalisation, automation and electrification – and it is now mining’s turn,” says Rutqvist. “Fortunately, Sandvik has been positioning itself for some time to lead the industry in this journey into the Future of Mining."
Alongside the 65 tonne BEV, Sandvik’s range includes a 50 tonne equivalent and an 18 tonne capacity battery electric LH581B underground loader. These vehicles, he says, are tested and proven as mature technology within Sandvik.
He highlights that Sandvik BEVs are faster, stronger and much less constrained than machines that are converted from a diesel design. Behind its ground-up designs is over a decade of experience in applying battery technology to mining – now integrated into the business through its 2019 acquisition of US-based Artisan Vehicle Systems.
“Our display at Electra Mining Africa demonstrates our overarching commitment to achieve a full range offering of battery electric trucks and loaders – covering all the major size classes – by 2025,” he says. Rutqvist points to the high level of interest in BEVs in Africa, with the company’s first unit – the LH581B loader – already on order from a deep-level South African gold mine.
Bolstering the Sandvik stand’s Future of Mining theme was its industry leading AutoMine® offering for underground and surface mines. With over two decades of evolution, AutoMine® is now installed on about 600 machines on mine sites worldwide, according to Kabelo Nkoana, Business Line Manager for automation and digitisation at Sandvik Southern Africa.
“The customer feedback at Electra Mining Africa clearly shows that mines are increasingly adopting automation technology,” says Nkoana. “This stems from both the productivity benefits especially during shift change and the safety aspect – where people can be removed from hazardous areas by automating certain functions."
The show gave Sandvik another opportunity to highlight the latest AutoMine® offerings like the integration of AutoMine® and its OptiMine® systems. The latter focuses on gathering data from all assets into one data management source, providing real-time and predictive insights to improve operations.
“Our powerful combination of automation and digitalisation has put Sandvik ahead of the pack,” he says. “Customers were also excited to hear about our latest automation next generation offering, AutoMine® Mine Mapping solution. This enables any mine vehicle to map an underground environment into three dimension and use the information to generate 3D and 2D maps of the mine. This results in faster configuration times of setting autonomous areas.
Another of Sandvik’s household name innovations at Electra Mining Africa was its Shark™ brand of ground-engaging tools and buckets (GET&B). With its centre of excellence for GET&B in Australia, the brand’s success is based partly on the specialised hard-wearing metallurgy that the company has developed in-house.
“So popular are our Shark™ tools that about 60% of the installations are actually done on competitors’ mining equipment,” says Darren Scott, Sandvik’s Business Development Manager for south-east Asia and Africa. “This year’s Electra Mining Africa has been a great opportunity to engage face to face again, and remind the market that the Shark™ GET range is the most recognized by far."