On Oct. 13, the partners announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding as a first step toward development of the program.
Northern College said it would rely on expertise from its Haileybury School of Mines in developing the program, while Sandvik would serve as a subject matter expert.
The company manufactures vehicles and other mining equipment for underground applications.
Company vice-president Peter Corcoran said the arrangement offers multiple benefits: it promotes a cleaner industry and supports resource development in the communities close to the mines using BEV technology.
“We are investing in educating this next generation of service specialists because we forecast an increase in demand for technicians in the BEV field as more operations transition to zero-emissions equipment,” Corcoran said in the release.
“We also want to invest in the local talent pool as the benefits of hiring locally and developing sustainable capacity in the community cannot be understated. This partnership addresses both of those areas.”
Battery electric vehicles are increasing in popularity in the industry. Replacing diesel-powered mining vehicles reduces underground fumes from diesel exhaust, resulting in better health and safety for workers, as well as a decrease in maintenance costs, and an increase in efficiency and productivity.
“Servicing and maintaining these fleets requires a different skill set than what is required for a diesel-powered fleet because BEVs have fewer mechanical components and more electrical components,” Northern College president Audrey J. Penner said in the release.
“For that reason, the Canadian mining industry requires a new generation of service technicians who are trained in servicing electrically powered machinery, and Northern College is responding to that call for talent and training.”
Since battery electric vehicles were put into use at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Macassa Mine a few years ago, the company said it’s benefitted through lower greenhouse gas emissions, improved working conditions, and reduced capital requirements for ventilation.
“Working with colleges will help Kirkland Lake Gold further develop our technicians in this field,” said Evan Pelletier, Kirkland Lake Gold’s vice-president of mining (Kirkland Lake).
“The program will not only develop new technicians, it will help to establish BEV standards in the industry that will lead the way for future advancements.”