Henrik Ager, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions

Electrification is one of the biggest technology shifts in mining, along with digitalization and automation. “Today it’s a small part of our business, but in a couple of years electric equipment will be part of pretty much every contract,” says Henrik Ager, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

There are many benefits with electrification in mining, such as reduced emissions, reduced heat and reduced noise, which is all beneficial for the operators’ health. The machines are also more powerful and productive.

The trend within mining is to go deeper and deeper underground, which increases the requirements for ventilation and cooling. “The deeper you go, the hotter it gets,” Ager says. “If you use electric equipment, the need for ventilation and cooling is reduced and you can save quite a bit of money in the process.”

Looking at the total cost of ownership from buying and running traditional diesel equipment, electric and diesel are on par.

“Electric equipment requires higher capital expenditures but the operating costs, such as fuel and maintenance, are lower. Factor in the savings on ventilation and cooling, and you have a really strong business case.

Today, electric mining equipment accounts for only about 1 percent of the market but this is about to change rapidly. Many customers want to try and have decided to build all-electric mines.

“The mine of the future will be automated, with equipment that is connected and intelligent. With that I mean that it makes its own choices on when to stop and where to go. It can identify another vehicle or a person and stop or turn around. And it’s 100 percent electric.”