Biggest Komatsu dozer arrives in NZ

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  • Earthmovers & Excavators

New Zealand’s biggest dozer, a Komatsu D475A-8, is helping breathe new life into an all-but worked-out gold mine.

Biggest Komatsu dozer arrives in NZ
The Komatsu D475A-8 is the largest dozer produced by the Japanese giant


New Zealand gold miner Whyte Gold has taken delivery of one of the first Komatsu D475-A bulldozers to be delivered in the Southern Hemisphere, seeking new deposits at a long-established mine.

The mining company has commenced a new phase of development at the mine, located behind Greymouth in the glacier region of New Zealand’s South Island.

Company principal Iain Whyte has conducted tests which have convinced him that there is plentiful new material lying deeper into the substructure at the site – believing earlier miners only worked the top level of the deposit.

"Further down there's a wash with strong content," he says. "I figured the old guys didn’t tunnel for nothing."

Whyte plans to cut between 25-35m into the site to reach the new level, which he believes can be worked for at least another eight years.

He says the Komatsu bulldozer, which is the largest in the Japanese manufacturer’s range, will be central to this.

 "Some say I would be better served with a smaller machine, but this bulldozer can extract substantial material with a single-pass, so it is actually in use far less than any alternative method," he says.


The dozer was delivered to Rimu in a convoy of five trucks


To access the site, Whyte will need to use techniques developed to meet increasingly stringent ecological controls, including winding down operations at a nearby site and selling another Komatsu bulldozer.

He says efficiency of this new dozer, which Komatsu says has "levels of emission control at the leading edge of heavy machine capability", will help minimise impact on the land as well.

The 115 tonne Komatsu D475A-8 is currently being rebuilt at its new base in Rimu after arriving in a five-truck convoy, with the machine broken down into transportable capsules following its arrival at Lyttleton, near Christchurch.

Komatsu positioned technicians at Whyte Gold's purpose-built hard stand to assist with the final construction of the massive machine, which is expected to take two weeks.

Komatsu territory sales manager for the West Coast Len Higgins says the dozer was fully built up and tested in Japan before it shipped out.

"We had to semi-knock it down at Lyttleton in order to be able to transport it across Arthur's Pass," he says.

The rebuild commenced within hours of the 75 tonne main frame arriving at Whyte Gold on one low loader accompanied by another four trucks of essential components.

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