The company will deploy a fleet of eight electric haul trucks — replacing 12 diesel trucks — at the gold and silver mine in northwestern B.C., following a successful electric vehicle trial initiated by the mine’s previous owner
Australia-based Newcrest Mining says it is transitioning its entire fleet of diesel trucks to battery-electric at its Brucejack gold-silver mine in northwestern British Columbia.
Eight underground battery-electric haul trucks will replace the mine’s current fleet of 12 diesel-powered trucks. The switch to an all-electric fleet — by the end of 2022 — will reportedly save around 65,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030, according to Newcrest Mining in its 2022 Full Year Results report.
“Newcrest is focusing on transitioning the highest emitting equipment to an electric fleet at Brucejack. The initial focus has been on haul trucks,” says Sean Masse, the general manager at Brucejack in an email to Electric Autonomy Canada.
“We are doing this to create a healthier work environment for employees, reduce our carbon footprint and take full advantage of British Columbia’s hydroelectric system, saving operating costs.”
The company says the new electric fleet will also help to “improve truck productivity, lower unit costs and enhance operational efficiency from planning to production.”
Masse adds that Newcrest intends to evaluate replacing its load haul dump loaders (LHD) with BEV LHDs at the mine in the future, too.
EV trials began in 2020
The journey to completely electrify the Brucejack mine’s fleet has been a long time in the making.
The Brucejack mine was previously owned by Vancouver-based mining company, Pretium Resources Inc., until Newcrest acquired the company and the mine in March of this year.
While the mine was still under Pretium’s ownership, fleet electrification plans were already brewing.
In late 2020, Pretium trialled the first Sandvik Z50 battery-electric haul truck at the mine for six months.
Pretium also received $7.95 million from the CleanBC Industry Fund in 2021 to help fund part of the project. Masse adds that Pretium also received a smaller amount of funding from BC Hydro for the project.
“The trial was designed to test the benefits and constraints of operating BEV trucks underground at Brucejack, including any size constraints of the trucks, the battery charging process, performance on the ramps and in the underground mine workings, ergonomics, and various safety factors,” says Masse.
“We did not identify any major issues with BEV trucks operating at Brucejack at the conclusion of the trial phase and committed to a total fleet of eight BEV trucks, including the trial machine.”
As a result, there are now three Sandvik Z50 battery-electric trucks in use at Brucejack.
“All of the work done with trials and purchases of BEV trucks at Brucejack so far has been with Sandvik,” says Masse.
He would not confirm if the remaining electric trucks at Brucejack will be from Sandvik, but also “we are utilizing [Sandvik’s] Battery as a Service. This is the process we have used for almost two years now and it is working well from both safety and operational perspectives.”
Overall climate goals
Along with adding battery electric vehicles at Brucejack, Newcrest has also trialled a hybrid load haul dump loader and is planning to trial a second electric light vehicle at its Cadia East gold and copper underground mine in Australia.
As part of its corporate mission, Newcrest is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Newcrest’s roadmap to reach our net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050 has fleet electrification as the preferred decarbonization technology at grid-connected sites. Trialling a vehicle de-risks the full fleet implementation,” says Masse.
“As battery technology develops and battery electric loaders become available in all asset classes…we will plan a trial to support the integration of that technology.”