Komatsu truck boosts mine efficiency

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

A Western Australian iron ore miner has placed an order for ten Komatsu dump trucks after it observed a more than 9 per cent lift in efficiency.

Mining Resources Limited has placed an order for ten Komatsu HD1500-8 vehicles to make the trip from the pit floor to the crusher

Mining Resources Limited (MRL) is always looking for ways to increase efficiency in its day to day operations - which among other projects includes the Iron Valley mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region, producing roughly eight million tonnes of iron ore per annum.

Dump trucks working at the Iron Valley pit site have to travel 1.6km from the floor of the open cut mine to the crushing facility, a process that took its existing fleet of dump trucks 23.84 minutes to complete.

With the company focused on on-the-minute precise details in every phase of the process, MRL tested a Komatsu HD1500-8 truck, finding that the machine could perform the same cycle in just 21.63 minutes – making it more than 9.2 per cent more efficient.

Greater efficiency from the vehicles, orchestrated by what Komatsu has labeled ‘the precision of a Formula One team’, has not only increased the payload to ten tonnes but also meant one less vehicle was required in its fleet to complete the entire process.

The significant differences in the times and the success in which the new vehicles could perform at has led MRL, which boasted earnings of more than $300 million in the 2020 financial year, to submit a purchase order of ten Komatsu machines.

Komatsu salesperson Jason Lambert says the size of the HD1500-8 purchase order was a major milestone for the company. 

"From a miner’s perspective, cost is a major determinant – capital cost, life cycle cost and productivity," Lambert says.

"In this instance, there was a consistent theme of 10 per cent improvement – in purchase cost, payload and operating efficiency - an additional 10 tonnes, 10 per cent faster and 10 per cent cheaper.

"But increasingly, there’s also the consideration of health and safety."

The 1.6 kilometre trek from the 160m-deep pit floor to the crusher is now commonplace for the HD1500-8, which makes use of the Collision Awareness System (CMS) – a major boon to the vehicle’s operator.

CMS uses eight on board radars and six cameras, combined by on algorithm, to provide the operator an unmitigated 360-degree overhead view of surrounding conditions.

Other features of the HD1500-8 include in-cabin ergonomics, low vibration operation and noise attenuation and the ability to dial down fuel use in a range from 90L per hour to 80L per hour; enough to complete two shifts between refuelling.

"There is a ten per cent gradient from the pit floor to the top of the pit with another 900 metres from the top of the pit to the crusher," Lambert says.

"The HD1500-8 climbs at 13 km/h, achieves 60 km/h on the flat and descends at 22 km/h.

 "The operator can alter the fuel use according to gradient and also the load for the return trip to the floor.

"It’s as if the HD1500-8 has been purpose built for the mine and in many respects, which is the case.

"Increasingly we’re capable of working with each specific operator to fine tune our machine to their exact requirements."

The first Komatsu HD1500-8 arrived at MRL prior to Christmas last year with the remaining nine vehicles scheduled to be freighted from Perth to the Iron Valley mine in the central Pilbara region throughout the first quarter of 2021.

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