Voltra Photo Shoot in Waihi

We needed some images of the Voltra fully-electric landcruiser and, given it is designed for mining operation, it seemed the logical option was to take it into a working mine to photograph.

Waihi Gold were generous enough to let us take the vehicle into their Correnso underground mine at Waihi in the beautiful Coromandel region of New Zealand.


And so, on a changeable Spring day, we took one of the Voltra landcruisers to the mine and a group of us were taken through the safety induction processes – including a very entertaining safety video. The health and safety procedures at the mine were rigorous and exhaustive, including a full risk assessment conducted on every aspect of the vehicle itself. All of our staff were kitted out in high-vis gear, breathing apparatus, helmets and lights before we descended into the mine itself.

The drive down plunged into complete darkness, with the 1 in 7 slope exactly what the Voltra was designed for. The mine was very damp, with water dripping from the ceiling and a layer of grey mud on the ground everywhere.

We found a spot some 300m below the surface where an intersection of tunnels gave us a tiny bit more room to shoot in and we unpacked lights.

Due to the mud and uneven surface, light stands were not able to be used so we had to employ everyone as ‘voice-activated light stands’, which involved a lot of holding lights and pointing them while I lay in the mud to get the shots from the appropriate angle. I also found it is really difficult to look through the viewfinder on a camera when you’re wearing a mining helmet. My main concern was making sure lenses and lights stayed out of the mud!

The shots came out great, though – the Voltra certainly stood out from all of the other mining gear by being so clean and white, not to mention its near-silent operation. The ability to keep all the lights on at all times was also handy in the depths of the tunnels.

The next run of Voltra vehicles are destined for mines in Australia which will have minor modifications to this model in order to suit Australian requirements, but no doubt they will look equally impressive. Until the mud gets them, of course.

Introducing the ZEV 22000

Launched at the EVWorld NZ, a concept electric vehicle by New Zealand specialist heavy electric vehicle manufacturer Zero Emission Vehicles brings a paradigm shift to transport in underground mining.

The ZEV 22000 is an electric 110 tonne haul truck.

It is emission free. In a hazardous underground environment, removing inflammable fuels and exhaust gases, and the particulates and contaminants they create, is costly and involved. By using electric vehicles, it removes the source of the problem.

With multi-charging options the vehicle can be charged underground, so there is no need to return to the surface for refuelling.

The ZEV 22000 is capable of a tramming speed of 20kph on a 1:7 gradient fully loaded, around twice the speed of its diesel competitor, so, as well as a quicker turnaround, it contributes to a healthier working environment.

The permanent magnet electric motors and power electronics are maintenance free with an operating life of more than 50,000 hours. The ZEV 22000 battery pack, when operated to the end of its usable capacity, should realise between 15,000 and 30,000 machine hours of service before needing replacement.

The hydraulic supply on the ZEV 22000 is provided by an independent electric motor, therefore the hydraulics operate completely independently of the vehicle travel.

With upgrades to machine vision systems and autonomous control algorithms fitted, the ZEV 22000 provides improved levels of driver assistance and ultimately independent autonomous control with traffic blending, this will also reduce damage and wear from collisions with mine walls and contact with other vehicles.



New From ZEV: The Autoline VOLTRA

Voltra Landcruiser

Representing the beginning of a paradigm shift in Underground Mining Vehicles, is the innovative Voltra, a battery-electric underground mine utility vehicle designed and built for Autoline Australia by New Zealand specialist heavy electric vehicle manufacturer, Zero Emission Vehicles.

Voltra is a battery electric landcruiser. The first of its kind in Australasia, it is aimed at the underground mining sector where producing emissions in a confined space is hazardous.

While the primary role of the Voltra is for surface to mine logistics, the vehicle is a prelude to what is possible with zero emission vehicles underground.

Maintenance of the vehicle is considerably less than its diesel counterpart. Where hundreds of parts need regular service and replacement with diesel, the permanent magnet motors and power electronics in ZEV vehicles are essentially maintenance free.

To maximise energy efficiency, operator comfort and safety, ZEV has developed a unique multi-channel air conditioning system combined with on-demand power steering.

Much of what is seen on the Voltra is also found on other ZEV vehicles, including the ZEV 14000 battery electric rubbish compacting truck, and the ZEV 22000, a concept 110-tonne electric haul truck designed specifically for underground mining operations.