The Expert: Michael Roberts
As BEV Category Manager for Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Parts & Services division, Michael Roberts deals with everything from battery logistics, the aftermarket business and battery data extraction.
MICHAEL ROBERTS JOINED Sandvik in September 2022, after spending a decade working in the automotive battery industry. His experience in safety testing, whole pack design, technology management and investment is utilized for Parts & Services – particularly when it comes to identifying and capitalizing on new opportunities to generate revenue streams in the rapidly expanding field of BEVs.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT NUMBER ONE PRIORITY?
A: It’s my role to make sure that we’re putting forward the right activities so that our customers can be successful when they transition to BEV, and make it as seamless as possible for both the customer and for Sandvik.
Q: HOW DOES SANDVIK ENSURE THE RECYCLING OF BATTERIES?
A: At Sandvik, we are dedicated to achieving circularity in our products, and this includes our batteries. We are actively seeking recycling partnerships to achieve this goal. As the mining industry produces a relatively minor amount of battery cells compared to the automotive industry, we hope to leverage the recycling knowledge gained from the latter. Our focus is not only on recycling but also on exploring secondary use applications for batteries. By extending the lifespan of batteries through secondary use, we can delay the need for recycling and enable the development of new and viable businesses that utilize battery technology. This is a crucial aspect for us and the entire organization.
Q: COULD YOU PROVIDE SOME EXAMPLES OF POTENTIAL SECONDARY USE FOR BATTERIES?
A: We are actively exploring various secondary use applications for batteries. One potential idea is to utilize the batteries themselves instead of generators underground in case of power quality issues. Another idea is to power underground drills for a shift, which could eliminate the need to extend the substation further down. Our goal is to find the right fit for the customer and design the product accordingly. For instance, the Ajax Stadium in Amsterdam is powered by end-of-life automotive batteries that can no longer power a vehicle, but can still provide energy for the stadium. Similarly, our battery packs could power a mine or a portion of it. As mining customers aim to reduce emissions and move away from traditional grid power, there could be a market for universal battery backup or a charge station for solar or wind to address the intermittency in renewables and aid in the transition for our customers. Our aim is to find innovative ways to extend the life of batteries beyond their end-of-life, thereby promoting circularity and sustainability.
Q: WHAT STEPS IS SANDVIK TAKING TO REDUCE THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT AND PROMOTE SUSTAINABILITY IN THEIR BATTERY PRODUCTION?
A: Sandvik has committed to set targets in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible, which is a key driver behind our shift towards BEVs. Being mindful of the chemistry we choose for our batteries is crucial and opting for lithium iron phosphate can have significant benefits in terms of safety, lifespan, environmental impact. Additionally, we are also constantly exploring ways to optimize our supply chain and become more efficient. For example, the opening of a new Load & Haul production facility in Malaysia, which will provide the additional production capacity needed to meet the rapid growth in demand for BEV technology, will also reduce the shipping distance of cells from China to California.