Sandvik trialling Stage V engine technology at Boliden's Tara mine

Sandvik is continuing its sustainability drive, announcing that it is trialling its first Stage V compliant underground truck at the Boliden-owned Tara zinc mine in Ireland. The company, in December 2019, launched its first Stage V compliant underground LHDs for hard-rock mining applications following extensive testing. Back then, it said its newest intelligent loaders, the Sandvik LH517i and Sandvik LH621i, would receive the Stage V treatment in early 2020.

Now, Sandvik's flagship truck, the TH663i, equipped with brand new Stage V engine technology, is undergoing an extensive field trial period at Tara, allowing the company to obtain first-hand customer feedback on its technical and operational performance. Sandvik said this was "an integral part of Sandvik's way of working and customer-focused mindset". The Stage V engine in the 63 t truck is expected to deliver lower emissions, contributing to reduced mine ventilation rates.

"Designed to fit seamlessly together with the truck and to perform specifically in underground use, the engine system includes built-in fire prevention solutions, increased wiring protection with shrink mesh wiring harness and electric hardware that is specifically designed for demanding conditions, with corrosion, heat and water resistance," it said. "The new Stage V, requiring ultra-low sulphur fuel and low-ash engine oil to operate, will be an optional engine for the TH663i." To reduce particle emissions in the lower Stages/Tiers, standard engines on both the TH663i and TH551i trucks can be equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), according to Sandvik. The company explained: "Based on studies conducted, the optional sintered metal DPF reduces particle mass by approximately 99%.

From a reliability and maintenance viewpoint, the DPF is well protected but still designed for easy cleaning to reduce downtime and operating costs. The DPF is also available as retrofit kit." Pia Sundberg, Product Line Manager for Trucks at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, says thorough field tests are valuable to both the OEM and customer: "We want to allow enough time for sufficient testing of new technology, since it is of benefit to both sides.

"Possible hiccups that can often occur when developing something new are identified prior to the product being fully commercialised, which enables us to serve our customers better in the long run. "Based on the feedback that we receive, we are still able to do some modifications if necessary and thereby make sure that the TH663i meets expectations when it is released to the market with the latest engine technology at a later stage. Of course, there is also some additional new technology on the test truck that we are testing at the same time."

The TH663i also benefits from the recent improvements in Sandvik's AutoMine(R) offering, as AutoMine for Trucks now enables autonomous truck haulage not only underground but also on the surface.

Sandvik said interesting glimpses into the company's future truck offering have also been seen in Australia, where the Artisan Z50 battery truck from Sandvik carried out an extensive tour in early 2020 and gathered customer feedback for the new upcoming battery generation.

The company has also recently deployed a Z50 into Barrick Gold's Turquoise Ridge underground gold mine, in Nevada.

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