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.