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Mining BEVs set to launch

17th March 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor


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Underground mining mobile equipment specialist MacLean Engineering is expanding its battery electric vehicle (BEV) portfolio this year with the launch of three new mining vehicles that further address ventilation-related energy costs, improve health and safety through diesel-free work environments, and contribute to corporate decarbonisation objectives.

The company has developed an elevated work platform utility vehicle, the MacLean ML5 Multi-Lift; the MacLean MC5 Explosives Charger for development and production charging; and the MacLean BT5 Boom Truck utility vehicle for materials handling in underground mines.

The first ML5s will be shipped to Australia midyear, as MacLean marketing and communications VP Stuart Lister says the country will be an important market for this type of elevated work platform, which was designed to facilitate safe and productive mine service installation and repair applications.

“A soft launch of the ML5 will take place in Canada during the CIM convention, in Montreal, from April 30 to May 3. The official launch will take place in Australia this summer, once the unit is in-country at our branch in Perth.”

Going Global

More than 20 MacLean mining vehicle models have been equipped with battery electric drivetrains across the company’s ground support, secondary reduction and utility vehicle product lines through MacLean’s Fleet Electrification Programme.

“Since the programme’s inception in 2016, we have shipped over 50 MacLean EV Series mining trucks to North America, Africa and Australasia, and this fleet has amassed close to a quarter of a million operating hours,” highlights Lister.

As companies mine deeper, ventilation costs and rising temperatures present an insurmountable problem, making BEVs an attractive option, which is also effective where mines want to reduce workers’ exposure to diesel fine particulate.

“Mining companies are also looking to implement their long-term decarbonisation programmes and help achieve global climate change targets. “A diesel-free mobile fleet is one piece of the puzzle,” Lister emphasises.

The Offering

The next-generation mining vehicles under MacLean’s 5 Series product line feature the latest on-vehicle technologies, including telemetry and collision avoidance, which are now embedded in the vehicle control system, supporting mobile equipment safety and availability.

For example, the MC5 explosives charger offers mines or mining contractors the flexibility to switch between emulsion delivery systems suitable for the site conditions over the life cycle of the equipment.

“We are targeting to host packages up to 5 000 kg gross weight and further want to offer mines the possibility of swiftly switching from an emulsion to an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil package on site,” notes MacLean product marketing manager Vivek Bhatt.

“Equipped with a 134-kW battery pack, the MC5 is designed to ensure adequate battery range to comfortably load development rounds or stopes, even where opportunity charging is not available.

“In addition, the rear-mounted deck offers better access and refilling, while a hose pusher and hose reel for loading up-holes is optional. “The cab provides all-round visibility, with electric joystick controls providing unparalleled ergonomics and operator comfort while tramming and positioning the unit,” elaborates Bhatt.

Much of the product development testing on the MacLean mining vehicles is done at the company’s underground MacLean Research and Training Facility, in Sudbury, Ontario, using 1 000 linear feet of ramp, which provides a real-life mine environment in which to validate the company’s designs.

“Having access to our own test mine helps accelerate our product development capacity. So, we can typically progress from the initial idea to prototype within months, not years,” states Lister.

Although, he admits there are always challenges during the product development process, especially when developing solutions for the mining sector, where there are significant safety, logistics and regulatory constraints.

MacLean aims to introduce its fleet electrification option more broadly to the African mining industry this year.

“Our ability to support the mining technology we introduce is one of the pillars of our ‘Made in Africa, for Africa’ promise . . . we are supporting units across South Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Mali, and going forward we see opportunity, particularly across the mining sector in Francophone Africa,” elaborates Lister.

MacLean is a fully trilingual operating company, owing to its roots in the Quebec mining industry and the size of the fleet deployed in the French-speaking province, as well as its Mexican manufacturing and Latin American branch and dealer network across Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

“We are well set up to provide remote and site support, along with the technical documentation support required by mine sites where English isn’t the first language of the workforce,” advances Lister.

MacLean established a South African branch in the early 2000s and currently supplies its equipment to five sub-Saharan mining countries.

The MacLean fleet footprint is growing every year, notes Lister.

“In the pursuit of our Made in Africa, for Africa strategy, whereby we assemble and repair MacLean mining vehicles at our Parys facility, in the Free State, we have established a full-service team of maintenance technicians and trainers who can provide efficient and cost-effective site support for our African clients,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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