Epiroc unveils two-boom battery-powered jumbo
Unit in production at Nickel Rim South
Epiroc, the recently renamed Atlas Copco subsidiary serving the mining and civil engineering sectors, has added a two-boom jumbo to its growing fleet of battery-powered underground equipment.
The Boomer M2C, a computerized unit designed for five and six-metre headings, “is one of our most popular face drilling machines, so we thought it was a good model to hit the middle of the marketplace,” said Richard Riach, global senior project manager.
Innovative onboard charging technology allows for charging while the unit is drilling at the face, so there is no need to stop and charge the battery before proceeding to another location.
The unit is equipped with a lithium-ion-phosphate battery – the same battery chemistry the company used when it introduced its ST7 scooptram four years ago, said Riach.
“However, unlike the batteries in the scooptram and our other vehicles, which are designed to be swapable, the M2C battery is fixed. It can still be removed for servicing, but it’s meant to stay in place because of the charging being done onboard.”
The battery was sized to accommodate 15 kilometres of tramming on flat and approximately five kilometres on grade.
“Typically, jumbos don’t tram a lot,” said Riach. “If you’re tramming with one of these machines, you’re generally moving between headings on the same level. The requirement from the customer for this machine was to travel the distance from a heading to a garage.”
The Boomer M2C was sold to Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations for use at its Nickel Rim Mine.
“As a first-off unit, we will be working closely with their team to monitor its performance and take back learnings to continue to further the technology,” said Riach.
The jumbo was manufactured at the Epiroc manufacturing facility in Orebro, Sweden, 200 kilometres west of Stockholm, and unveiled at a customer event in Sudbury August 2nd.
According to Riach, Atlas Copco’s entry into the battery-powered market started four and a half years ago when the company was approached by a manufacturer of battery drive systems and a mining company looking for battery technology.
“We took on the challenge in Canada and said, ‘yes, let’s see what we can do.’ We started building the first ST7 scoop in 2013 right here in Sudbury and we put the machine out for testing in 2014.”
Subsequent units have been built in Sweden.
The company has two ST7s and three MT2010 battery-powered haul trucks at Kirkland Lake Gold in Northern Ontario and one ST7 in Peru.
“Kirkland Lake Gold is the showplace, the learning place in Canada and to some extent globally for battery technology,” said Riach. “We’re very fortunate that we have them so close to us.
“I always said that 2017 would be the year that battery technology would take off and that 2018 would be the year that the world is going to know about it. The interest from mining companies has changed dramatically in the last six to eight months. I don’t think there is a major mining company that is not now actively exploring the use of battery power.
“Northern Ontario is definitely the hot spot globally in our eyes. It’s a combination of the fact that companies like Kirkland Lake Gold through an openness to the technology as well as necessity explored battery technology, and companies like us stepped in to prove that the technology is viable.
Mining companies now have the confidence to re-examine their spreadsheets and look at battery technology in lieu of exhaust-producing diesel equipment, noted Riach.
“The mining industry has a lot to gain from it. We’re unique in that the environment underground is very confined and anything we can do to improve it pays off very rapidly. When you’re in confined spaces, you really notice when your air isn’t good.”
Cooler running, exhaust-free battery-powered underground equipment cuts ventilation and cooling costs while creating a healthier environment for miners.