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Sandvik acquires Artisan Vehicle Systems

Kirkland Lake still awaits word of underground truck assembly plant
Z-40 Artisan
Artisan Vehicle System's Z-40 battery-powered hauler being tested by Kirkland Lake Gold's Macassa Mine (Artisan photo)

High-tech Swedish engineering giant Sandvik is acquiring Artisan Vehicle Systems, a privately-owned California manufacturer of battery-powered underground mining loaders and trucks with ties to northeastern Ontario.

The purchase price was not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close sometime this quarter.

Artisan is a 60-employee start-up company, headquartered in Camarillo, Calif., which posted revenues of US$12.3 million in 2017.

According to Sandvik, Artisan is regarded as a market leader in underground battery-powered vehicles.

No mention was made in Artisan’s and Sandvik’s Jan.22 news releases whether a proposed vehicle assembly and research centre for Kirkland Lake will proceed.

In late 2017, Artisan pronounced that the northeastern Ontario gold mining town will be its Canadian assembly point for its Z-40 battery-powered haul truck, currently being tested at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Macassa Mine.

A town official said he hadn’t heard from the company in months, nor seen a site plan, despite municipal servicing being extended into an industrial lot close to the mine.

But Brian Huff, Artisan’s chief technology officer, recently told a reporter with Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a sister publication of Northern Ontario Business, that his company was still committed to Kirkland Lake.

Martin Blomgren, who handles media relations for the Sandvik Group, responded by email that with the acquisition of Artisan “just is too early to say anything about future investments at this stage.”

Headquartered in Stockholm with Ontario offices in Sudbury, North Bay and Red Lake, Sandvik is the world’s largest underground hard rock mining original equipment manufacturer.

Artisan started in 2010, focused on manufacturing zero-emission commercial trucks before making the transition to underground vehicles.

The company will be folded into Sandvik Mining’s load and haul division.

“It is in line with our ambition to be leading in the market for battery electric vehicle solutions,” said Lars Engström, the president of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, in a company news release.

“The area in which Artisan is located is a frontrunner in electric vehicle development. Our new R&D foothold there will complement the skillset we have in Finland,” said Mats Eriksson, president of the load and haul division.

“The combination of know-how and skills creates a very strong platform.”

In a statement, Artisan president Mike Kasaba said the criteria behind picking a partner were simple.

“We want a partner that has set the standard of today so that together we can set the standard for tomorrow. I am absolutely certain that we have selected the right partner.”

“With our technology and Sandvik’s experience and world-wide reach, I know we are going to change the world.” said Huff in a release.

“Sandvik’s expertise in machine design coupled with our expertise in electric powertrains and battery technology will set a new course for the global mining industry.”