Sometimes a turning point can only be seen clearly in hindsight. Such is the case for the mine of the future as we begin 2018, coming out of a 2017 where major mining companies continued to demonstrate capital spending austerity and focus on debt reduction. All the while, there were growing signals that digitalization, electrification and automation were all gaining momentum, even though actual examples of minesite implementations could as of yet, still be counted on one hand.
MacLean took the opportunity that industry downturn presented over the past several years to focus intensely on three key product development ventures – first and foremost, the battery electrification of our entire fleet, which will be complete by the end of 2018; second, the successful introduction of face bolting as a feature on our 975 Omnia bolter; and, third, the launch of the latest addition to our utility vehicle product line – the LR3 Boom Lift for heavy load and high reach applications.
The past year was one where for the first time we had a fleet of battery electric vehicles working underground, allowing us the ability to validate our performance and total cost of ownership (TCO) models with real-world data, while at the same time continuing to build out our EV offer across the product lines. Looking forward, as we work hard to fully electrify our fleet of ground support, ore flow/secondary reduction, and utility vehicles, we’re keenly aware that electrification is but one step in the ongoing mechanization of underground mining, a transition to the mine of the future that will be increasingly efficient through digitalization and automation that will increase production and reduce costs.