The battery-electric vehicle orders, some of the largest in the industry to date, will see Sandvik Mining vehicles delivered to the Jansen potash and the McIlvenna Bay copper-zinc projects, operated by BHP and Foran Mining, respectively, by 2025
Swedish-based electric mining equipment manufacturer Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is cementing its presence in Canada — and adding to this country’s world-leading profile for mine electrification — with a pair of recent battery-electric vehicle (BEV) fleet orders in Saskatchewan.
In February of this year, Sandvik won a $250-million contract from Australian miner, BHP Group, to supply mining equipment, including a fleet of cable-connected electric MF460 borer miners, to the Jansen Potash project located 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon. At the time, Sandvik said that the order came after “several years of close collaboration” with BHP to develop “the underground mining equipment and automation solution.”
Then, in June, Sandvik revealed that BHP had ordered 10 underground battery electric loaders along with one electric tethered loader for use at the Jansen site.
Now, earlier this week, Sandvik secured another deal for another mine in Saskatchewan. This time it’s with Vancouver-based Foran Mining, to supply it 20 battery-electric vehicles for Foran’s McIlvenna Bay copper-zinc project in east-central Saskatchewan near the Flin Flon Greenstone Belt.
Both the BHP and Foran orders are scheduled to be delivered to each of their respective mining projects between 2023 to 2025.
McIlvenna Bay BEV purchase
The Foran order is Sandvik’s largest BEV fleet order to date.
It includes seven model LH518B loaders, six TH550B trucks, four DD422iE jumbos, two DL422iE longhole drills and one DS412iE mechanical bolter. The total value of the deal is $41 million.
“Utilizing battery electric equipment with semi- and fully autonomous capabilities can help us achieve our carbon neutral targets and provide a safe working environment,” said Dave Bernier, chief operating officer of Foran in a press release.
As part of the deal, Sandvik will also be offering on-site service support and a Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) program to help Foran manage the health of the batteries and chargers throughout their life span.
“This record contract is the culmination of a year-long collaborative effort between Foran Mining and Sandvik and demonstrates a shared vision that electrification will drive the future of sustainable mining,” said Jakob Rutqvist, vice-president of strategy and commercial for Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Battery and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (BHEV) Business Unit in a press note.
“BEVs have enormous potential to reduce a mining operation’s carbon footprint, and Canada continues to be the epicentre for mining electrification and a blueprint for what to expect in other major mining regions very soon.”
Foran is planning to make McIlvenna Bay the “world’s first carbon-neutral copper development project,” powered by clean hydroelectricity. The company has stated in the past that it plans “to create a blueprint for responsible mining that causes the least possible harm from day one through the innovative use of technology, renewable energy and fleets of electric vehicles and equipment.”
The Sandvik equipment purchase follows Foran’s 2020 pre-feasibility assessment to assess the viability of investing in battery-electric vehicles in comparison to diesel at the McIlvenna Bay project.
The study found that BEVs would offer better financial results, especially when taking into account the savings produced by reduced ventilation capital and operating costs.
“This is a very exciting period for Foran as we continue to execute on our initiatives to permit, construct and operate McIlvenna Bay. Sandvik is a global leader in industrial battery technology and we look forward to working together on our project,” said Bernier.
Sandvik battery-electric vehicles are also deployed in underground mines in Ontario and British Columbia.
The BHP orders
BHP’s Jansen potash project is also being designed with an eye for sustainability and technology.
Potash is listed as one of Canada’s critical minerals, with Saskatchewan currently responsible for approximately one-third of the world’s supply. It’s a potassium-rich salt, used primarily in fertilizers to improve drought tolerance and crop quality.
The Jansen project has the potential to become the largest potash producing mine in the world, with an initial production capacity of 4.3 to 4.5 million tonnes of potash per year. The mine is expected to be operational by 2027, with a mine life of a century.
“Electric mining equipment is essential to meeting our goals to reduce emissions, improve productivity and most importantly protect the health of our employees underground. Jansen will have the lowest carbon emissions per tonne of product produced compared to any potash mine operating today in Saskatchewan,” says Simon Thomas, vice-president of BHP’s Project Potash in a press statement.
The Canadian government is also providing financial support to BHP in order to decarbonize the Saskatchewan potash industry. Through the Strategic Innovation Fund, the federal government is contributing $100 million to help the Jansen mine lower its carbon footprint, enhance worker safety, and integrate technologies, such as BEVs, to cut emissions from mine operations.
“We know how critical potash is for our country when it comes to food security, and that’s why we are pleased to partner with BHP on this very ambitious project that will bring strong economic benefits to Saskatchewan, while also helping cement Canada’s mining industry as the best in the world as we pivot toward a zero-emissions future,” said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry in a press release.