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Atlas Copco has launched its newest zero emissions underground loader, setting a new benchmark in operator safety.

The new Scooptram ST7 Battery has been designed to lift environmental standards in underground mines, lower energy costs as well as operators’ exposure to diesel particulate matter, and may lead the way for the redesign of mines.

Traditionally, underground mobile equipment in the mining sector has relied on diesel engines which release emissions, and must be ventilated via costly systems

While there are already electric scoops in underground mines, these units have to be tethered via an electric cable, limiting their limited range and creating other operating challenges.

“As the trend for deeper mines continues and mining companies seek to gain more control over their operations, the Scooptram ST7 Battery answers this challenge with automated functions; for example, the ability to control multiple loaders from a safe, remote location, planning and repeating the perfect production cycle every time,” Atlas Copco has stated.

“Loaders and trucks consume about 80 per cent of the diesel fuel underground,” Lars Senf, vice president marketing at Atlas Copco Underground Rock Excavation division, explained.

“The loaders are most often used in dead ends of the mine, which are the most difficult to ventilate. To make the greatest impact on work environment and ventilation costs, it was an obvious choice for Atlas Copco to launch a battery driven loader as our first product of this type.”

The design of this underground loader, and its battery power capability, has been driven by new developments in battery technology.

“This has made it possible to create powerful and productive equipment with zero emissions. The Scooptram ST7 Battery is the first step in powering heavy, mobile equipment underground and in the future we might see a broader range of battery powered equipment including scoops, trucks and drills,” Atlas Copco added.

“All the obvious benefits with battery power adds up to something that might not be as obvious, like a reduced environmental footprint, higher worker satisfaction, and a better standing in the community,” Erik Svedlund, product manager – Electric Vehicles – Underground Material Handling, said.

The Scooptram ST7 Battery will be launched this week at MassMin 2016, and introduced in North America before it is gradually rolled out globally.