December 2, 2022
In Red Lake, Ontario, Evolution Mining operates one of the highest-grade Archean gold camps in Canada. The operation is in the midst of a transformation, and part of that journey involved its recent order of a battery-converted Epiroc Scooptram ST1030. We sat down with Robbie Spekking, Account Manager at Epiroc, and Kirsty Liddicoat, General Manager of Evolution Mining, to discuss their experience with the battery electric mining equipment.
How did the relationship between Epiroc and Evolution Mining start?
ROBBIE SPEKKING: “Evolution Mining has been dealing with us on rock drilling tools; we have a 100% market share in that area of their business. Building from that existing relationship, they approached us about battery equipment and decided to go with a battery-converted Scooptram ST1030 underground loader, which is a six-yard underground loader, and the Scooptram ST14 Battery, which is an eight-yard loader. They also went for a Minetruck MT42 Battery.”
What challenges is Evolution Mining facing in Red Lake that battery equipment might help resolve?
KIRSTY LIDDICOAT: “We wanted to change the way we mine, so we can be more efficient and productive while continuously improving our health and safety by reducing diesel emissions underground. We see our battery electric fleet as being a key part of this goal. As we move into new mining areas, we’re setting our operations up differently from the past, to be more large-scale and productive. For us, battery electric is the future; we know we need to reduce our carbon footprint, and Evolution Mining has a goal of net carbon zero by 2050 and a 30% reduction by 2030. Also, the deeper you get the more expensive it is to supply ventilation, so battery for us is a big win in that space.”
How has the collaboration been between your companies?
KL: “For the current machine on site, there has been significant collaboration. It’s the first battery loader, so it’s really been more of a partnership than a supplier/customer arrangement.”
RS: “We also provided a training program, which has helped with getting the battery-converted Scooptram loader to where it is now.”
Has Epiroc provided any specific advice to help facilitate the transition?
RS: “Being that it’s the first machine on site, it’s a bit of a learning curve for Epiroc, as well. Any time there is interaction between Evolution Mining personnel and Epiroc, we bring that to the table, and we’re planning to make certain changes on the machines going forward – changes that are going to benefit both parties as they receive the upcoming machines.”
KL: “Hence, why it is more of a partnership.”
What kind of contact did Epiroc and Evolution Mining have during the conversion process?
RS: “For the discussion about going from diesel to battery, there wasn’t too much involvement on Evolution’s side, because we actually took a diesel machine and converted it to the battery already, so the only thing used on the existing battery machine was the frame.”
KL: “From our viewpoint, we were looking at the total operating cost of the machine, and there are definite cost benefits on battery electric in terms of the maintenance costs – even the running costs are cheaper. When we did our trade-offs, it came out as the right option for our site to move forward with.”
What can you say about the discussions and collaboration so far?
RS: “I think the partnership between Evolution and Epiroc has been tremendous. There’s been a lot of collaboration with the new and upcoming machines, and they’ve been very understanding on any minor bumps in the road throughout the process.”
KL: “We have had great feedback on the collaboration, and our operators love the machine, so that’s always a positive.”
Kirsty Liddicoat, General Manager Evolution Mining, based in Red Lake, Ontario, Canada and Robbie Spekking, Account Manager Epiroc Customer Center, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
What are your hopes for the machines being brought in?
KL: “We’re really looking at them to be a key linchpin of our transformation. So, it’s basing our transformation journey on building up to 300 000 ounces plus per year, which comes off the back of these machines, while also reducing our cost profile.”
RS: “Tons moved is what I want to see – and higher availability of machines. Ultimately, more tons moved is more cost efficient for the mine.”
What is the plan for battery equipment moving forward?
KL: “I think the first step is embedding the current fleet. When we made the initial purchase, we had a long-term vision of a change over to electric, and that’s really in line with how we look to that sustainable net-zero future.”
Can the Evolution Mining/Epiroc relationship grow into more of a partnership?
RS: “We always want to continue to grow this relationship. There has never been a point where we’re planning to stop working together, and there’s always room for improvement as technology evolves.”
KL: “I think it will continue to grow as we bring on the new fleet and as we learn and share together. We are really leading the way working with Epiroc on that.”
Is there a possible scenario where Evolution Mining could be more involved in the development of equipment with Epiroc?
KL: “Well, you know, I have a wish list of stuff…”
RS: “There’s always an opportunity for Evolution Mining and Epiroc to work together on new innovations moving forward.”
KL: “I think it is exciting to see the new equipment, and it’s great to talk to the operators. We have some operators who cannot speak highly enough about this equipment and want to show it off that they’re loving it. That, for me, is the proof we made the right decision in moving to battery electric and in our partnership.”