A new wave of electric-powered mining utes is poised to be rolled out on WA mine sites within the next two months.
Mineral Resources, which produces iron ore as well as lithium for global export, will become the first miner in WA to take delivery of Australian-engineered Toyota Hilux utes.
The utes – ordered through vehicle supplier MEVCO and converted from diesel power to all-electric in Melbourne by SEA Electric – are set to be put to use across a range of Mineral Resources mine sites, including the Koolyanobbing iron ore mine.
The 88kWH battery in the vehicles provides a range of up to 380km and can be charged to 80 per cent in less than one hour, with the first demonstration model arriving in Perth this week.
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“Our MEVCO electric utes are just one of the many ways we’re driving towards net zero and an exciting step in our decarbonisation journey,” Mineral Resources’ CEO Mining Services Mike Grey said.
“Battery technologies are key to a clean energy future. As the world races towards decarbonisation, we are part of the journey because it’s not just good business but the right thing to do.”
The arrival of the utes follows Mineral Resources introducing electric light trucks produced by SEA Electric two years ago.
The company also made headlines last year when it announced a world-first successful test run of an autonomous road train platoon.
The move towards electrification continues to gain pace in WA mining, with the potential to not only reduce emissions but also improve health and safety outcomes – particularly underground.
As Steve Durkin – the Australian inventor of the Bortana EV – told resourc.ly in 2020, the maneuverability of his company’s light electric vehicle has pronounced advantages.
“It’s too early to put any conclusive numbers on it but my expectation is that there would be less accidents over time,” Durkin said.
“It’s really easy for drivers to perform a three-point turn in an EV, using only the accelerator and without any need to brake.
“In an underground context, a driver might have a truck bearing down on him and have to reverse quickly and find a place to hide.
“There is a fair bit of anxiety and stress associated with that and an EV takes having to get into gear out of the picture.”
The Bortana is one of several light EVs that have been trialled on WA mine sites, with Evolution having tested a Rokion R200 at its Frogs Leg underground mine in the Goldfields and BHP introducing an ‘electric ute’ at its Nickel West Cliffs underground mine.
There are also a wide range of electrification initiatives underway among iron ore miners, from the development of electric haul trucks at FMG and Rio Tinto, to the introduction of battery-powered locomotives by Roy Hill and others.
AngloGold Ashanti staged a trial of the world’s largest battery-electric underground mining truck – Sandvik’s TH655B prototype – at its Sunrise Dam gold mine south of Laverton.