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First battery-powered LHD in Sudbury camp

November 6, 2017
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

California-based company commits to manufacturing facility in Sudbury or Kirkland Lake

Mike Mayhew, director of mining, Artisan Vehicle Systems, with the 153 LHD loaded and ready for transport to Vale’s Coleman Mine.

Artisan Vehicle Systems has delivered the first battery-powered loader in the Sudbury camp to Vale’s Coleman Mine and announced plans to begin manufacturing in either Sudbury or Kirkland Lake by next year.

Coleman Mine has agreed to rent the 1.5-yard, three tonne loader for six months and to purchase it and buy additional units “provided everything works well,” said Mike Mayhew, director of mining, Artisan Vehicle Systems.

The 153 loader is equipped with a two-yard, four-tonne capacity bucket and a lithium-ion-phosphate battery that holds a charge for between four and four-and-a-half hours. Artisan also provided Coleman with a charging system and a spare battery, which will be located on the 5620 level of the mine.

“The typical mucking cycle is about two-and-a-half hours, so the battery will never drain before charging,” said Mayhew, who adds that the loader will be ready to go after an hour of charging at 300kw/hour.

Coleman will also have the option of swapping out the battery for a spare using a crane. Artisan tells its customers it takes 15 minutes, but claims to have done it in eight minutes.

The lithium-ion-phosphate battery was chosen has a proven track record for safety and is the same battery chemistry used by Tesla.

In addition to the LHDs it has in production, Artisan battery technology is in service on a total of 32 units at Kirkland Lake Gold, a number of which were manufactured by other mining equipment suppliers.

The loader will be used in Coleman’s 170 orebody because “that’s where they’re having challenges with ventilation,” said Mayhew. “It’s the hottest part of the mine with temperatures of between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius.”

The 153 loader delivered to Coleman is Artisan’s fifth unit in production. Two 153s have been delivered to Hecla’s Lucky Friday silver-lead-zinc mine in Mullan, Idaho, and an additional two units are moving ore at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Macassa operation in Northern Ontario. All five were manufactured at Artisan’s head office and plant in Camarillo,
California, although some modifications were made in Sudbury to the Coleman unit to comply with Vale ROPS-FOPS and other requirements.

By the end of the year, Mayhew expects to have seven or eight 153s in production and several new models on the drawing board, including a 40-tonne truck.

“We’re talking to Vale about several other projects – Upper Kelly Lake, Copper Cliff and Victor Capri. They’re extremely interested in battery technology because they know mines are getting deeper and hotter.”

The decision to establish a manufacturing centre in Northern Ontario was made “to be close to our clients,” said Mayhew. “It’s one thing to sell the equipment to the client, but the reality is you have to also be able to support and service the equipment.”

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