Japan’s Komatsu hopes to fast-track commercialisation of a new generation of battery-electric underground mining machines next year in partnership with NASDAQ-listed electric vehicle technology specialist Proterra Inc.
The global construction and mining equipment leader is already working with Proterra to develop a suitable battery for electric excavators.
Under the collaboration announced this week Proterra will supply its H Series battery system technology to Komatsu for development of battery-electric LHDs, drills and bolters for underground hard rock mining. Komatsu aims to produce prototype machines this year.
The manufacturer is the world’s major supplier of autonomous surface mining trucks and has extensive exposure to openpit mines around the world. It has also acquired a dominant share of the underground soft-rock mining equipment market.
Underground hard-rock is an area of relative weakness but one where Komatsu has said publicly it sees significant future growth potential. It evidently thinks winning the right technology bets is one way to leapfrog market incumbents.