Light EV innovation heads to gold mine for trial

The Bortana EV.

Safescape and 3ME Technology have launched a light electric vehicle (EV) that will be trialled at an underground gold mine.

The Bortana EV, based on the Agrale Marruá heavy-duty utility vehicle from Brazil, has been designed to offer a significant increase in sustainability and durability compared with existing options for underground mining.

It has been developed to provide several key benefits over diesel-powered vehicles. The Bortana EV provides minimal heat, minimal noise and no exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM) for workers within confined spaces.

A prototype of the EV will go into the gold mine on a three-month trial before further exposure to other mining companies and contractors.

Safescape managing director Steve Durkin said the vehicle had a simple design, but it was also incredibly strong and robust.

“The vehicle we are using has been designed from the ground up for a military platform in Brazil. The whole body is galvanised,” Durkin told Australian Mining at the Austmine Conference last week.

“So we have a vehicle that is strong enough for the environment, strong enough for the loads that we are carrying, and resists corrosion for an extended period of time.”

Safescape displayed the vehicle at last week’s Austmine Conference in Brisbane. The vehicle was then officially launched at the Mt Cotton Training Centre in Brisbane on Friday.

3ME Technology chief executive Justin Bain said a vehicle of this nature was sorely needed in the Australian mining landscape.

“Vehicles used in underground Australian mining operations have faced issues of corrosion, durability and emissions for a long time – there is a sore need for a better solution,” Bain said.

“The Bortana EV was developed for the harsh environments of Australian mine sites and we’re really excited to see this vehicle in action. We have focused on achieving the highest levels of safety and compliance whilst delivering superior performance and efficiency. ”

Bortana EVs are future proofed, according to the developers. They are also equipped for integration with current and future artificial intelligence development.

The project was partly funded by METS Ignited, which provided $500,000 for the initiative under its collaborative project funds in 2018.

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