Sandvik LH518B ready for H2 testing at Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville gold mine

Posted by Daniel Gleeson on September 1, 2022

Agnico Eagle will explore the benefits of battery-electric underground technology after receiving a Sandvik LH518B underground loader at its Fosterville gold mine in Victoria, Australia, which will be tested in the second half of 2022.

The Fosterville operation, 20km from Bendigo, will become the first mine on Australia’s east coast and only the second in the country to receive the new Sandvik loader (the first being Gold Fields’ St Ives operation in Australia western). Featuring advanced lithium-iron phosphate battery technology, the LH518B produces zero underground exhaust emissions and emits significantly less heat than its diesel counterparts.

Rob McLean, who was then Chief Engineer of Fosterville Mines, announced plans for trial operation of the Sandvik LH518B at IMARC online event in November 2020. He said the trial – originally planned for 2021 – was part of the company’s vision to “have an all-electric mine”, with the immediate goals being to eliminate diesel emissions and reduce operating heat.

After the new machine arrived on site, Fosterville Gold Mine General Manager Lance Faulkner said, “As a company, we are committed to exploring new technologies to further enhance our extensive health and safety programs. safety and to fully integrate sustainability into everything we do. . And so, we are excited to put the LH518B into service in Fosterville. We are interested in seeing what difference this can make in terms of efficiency and the working environment underground, and look forward to working closely with Sandvik.

Featuring a 600kW transmission, the Sandvik LH518B enables higher acceleration than conventional loaders as well as fast ramp speeds, resulting in short cycle times, Sandvik says. Thanks to its space-saving battery system and transmission, it is the most compact 18t loader on the market, able to fit in a 4.5 x 4.5m tunnel, the company claims.

Andrew Dawson, Sandvik’s business line manager for Load & Haul, says that with the benefits that Sandvik’s battery electric vehicles (BEVs) bring in terms of safety, efficiency and sustainability, it’s not It’s no surprise that they are gaining popularity among underground operators.

“By testing Sandvik LH518B, Agnico Eagle is at the forefront of this emerging technology and demonstrating its environmental credentials,” he says. “Not only does the loader produce zero underground emissions and significantly reduce heat, it also offers new levels of productivity. All of this creates a safer, more comfortable and better controlled underground environment.

Faulkner of Fosterville explains that another interesting feature of the Sandvik LH518B is the ability to quickly and easily replace the battery cage. Sandvik’s AutoSwap technology can discharge a discharged battery and charge a fully charged battery in just six minutes, without the need for lifting infrastructure.

“It is crucial that new technologies are sustainable and safe, but also that they contribute to the efficiency and smooth running of our mining operations,” he said. “From what we’ve heard about the new Sandvik loader, it will perform on all three fronts.”

Kate Bills, Sandvik Australia Managing Director – Sustainability, says the LH518B reflects Sandvik’s determination to lead the market for safe, productive and climate-friendly mining equipment.

“Sandvik puts its money where it wants by investing in battery electric vehicles and other technologies that help customers achieve their sustainability goals,” she says. “Customers both globally and in Australia are increasingly looking for these types of solutions and we are proud to provide them.”