Review: Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Ron Horner checks out a 52-tonne Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator putting in some serious work at a granite quarry in South East Queensland.

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I’ve learned a fair few lessons in life, at times taking the hard road before fully understanding the errors of my ways.

Just some of them are: not listening to your missus at a certain time; failing to give way at an intersection; failing to apply grease to certain machinery at regular intervals; and not having the right tool or machine for the job and relying on a miracle to come your way.

When you have an important role to execute in a hard rock environment, you just know that any wrong choice on the type and size of machinery or poor choice of distributor is going to cost you big time.

Rear shot of Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator
This Hyundai is exceptionally strong

Brisbane-based Boulder Walls Construction has several hard rock quarries in the south-east Queensland region under its control, and it is from these quarries that they source the rocks and boulders they need to build commercial rock walls throughout the state.

Over the years, BWC has used several brands of excavators on the face, and recently took possession of its newest member of its ever-increasing Hyundai fleet – a 52-tonne Hyundai R520-LC-9 excavator.

Read the story of BWC and its Porter Equipment-supplied Hyundai fleet here

On the job

The first thing you will notice when working in this quarry environment is that rock exists everywhere you look — and bloody hard rock to boot.

Both small and extremely large granite boulders are being pulled out of the ground and stockpiled into every nook and cranny available, awaiting the time to be broken into the right sizes for on-selling into the construction market.

Sitting alone at the work face is the Hyundai R520-LC-9, running hard to extract and move some of the huge boulders using its big Furukawa F70 hydraulic rock breaker, which we’ll be reviewing as well.

Anyone who has worked granite knows it is an unforgiving material that will wear your machine out pretty darned quickly if you have underestimated its qualities. You will never win, but you can minimise the wear rate and damage to the machine if you follow some tried and proven tips:

  • Choose the type of and quality of machine most suitable for the job on hand. If you can find a good distributor or dealer, then you are well on your way
  • Ensure the machine is larger than what you first thought you needed – this will definitely pay dividends later on
  • Protect the ground-engaging wear parts, track gear, and rollers to minimise permanent damage to the machine
  • Install bump protection on the counterweight and each side of the machine, as there will most definitely be some damage caused by bumping up onto the larger rocks during some stage of its quarry life. (There is nothing worse than seeing the side of a machine stoved in when it could have been prevented.)
  • Finally, if you are contemplating using a hydraulic hammer make sure you install front and side window protection screens before you start work … inevitably a rock will smash your windscreen or side windows in this environment.

On this job, most of the points listed have been addressed by BWC and Porter Equipment, and the big Hyundai certainly looks like it’s the goods for the project.



Based in Ulsan, South Korea, Hyundai Heavy Industries was founded in 1972 and now employs almost 30,000 people worldwide. It’s the leading Korean heavy machinery manufacturer.

The Hyundai R520LC-9 runs a big Cummins QSM11 turbo-diesel engine pushing out a healthy 255kW (342hp). It delivers plenty of oil – 740 lpm – to the hydraulic pumps, which is more than enough to run the big Furukawa F70 hydraulic rock-breaker.

Due to the size of the excavator, all servicing has to be done above ground level and requires access to each side of the machine.

Around the exposed slew motor, located between the back of the boom and the engine bay cover, lies an array of hydraulic hoses and pipes which would be awkward to work on if an issue ever arose in this area. However, it is no different to any other large excavator, with auxiliary piping feeding the pressure and return hydraulic lines over the boom and through the accumulators.

The accumulators on this particular machine are aftermarket installations as they allow the pressure delivered from the pumps and returned pressure from the hammer to be ‘baffled’ like a shock absorber, preventing aerating of the hydraulic oil.

A point of interest is the positioning of the dipstick in the engine bay on this particular machine … the operator has to reach over to the back of the engine to check the oil levels. Normally you’d think this wasn’t an issue, but it is when the engine is hot and the turbo is directly under your arm and armpit.

The machine is fitted with a short stick, which is ideal for getting power to the ground and lifting those big rocks, but is a bugger to use when loading trucks. You tend to run out of reach on a regular basis and movements are made often. Again, another trade-off.

The long track frame, fitted with lifesaving track and roller guards, certainly is beneficial here. The heavy rocks and big hammer would certainly put your nose on the windscreen if the machine was fitted with a conventional track configuration.

The track frame on the Hyundai is exceptionally strong, built with huge steel plate, gusseted in all the correct areas, and braced to minimise any fatigue areas one would probably expect when executing heavy rock work such as this.

The big bucket is fully spec’d up, and the side, front and bottom wear plates are perfect for this operation.


Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator window mesh
It may reduce visibility, but front and side window protection screens are essential in a tough environment like this

In the cab

The cab of the Hyundai is quite spacious, although, with the fine-meshed rock protection screens over the front window, one does seem to feel a little confined and vision-impaired when operating into the sun.

Telltale signs of not installing mesh rock protectors prior to starting work in this environment are the slivers of broken glass glistening in the sunlight on the cabin floor. The operator told me that three windows have been broken since operations started – a lesson well learned here.

The operator’s vision is slightly impaired out the front, and will be further impaired when the side protection covers are installed in the near future.  When you have serious money invested in the production machine, you need to keep the cabin safe, and this is one of the many trade-offs encountered in our game.

The seating is well and truly up to scratch, the air-conditioning works beautifully, and the hydraulics operate smoothly – all of which help to make for a neat and tidy excavator.

A well-defined aftermarket two-way dashboard, reversing camera and operator-friendly joysticks make this machine more than adequate for a long, hard day in the quarry.


The bottom line

The New Zealand-owned Porter Group has the distribution of Hyundai in Australia and is one of the success stories out of NZ, not that far behind Phar Lap.

Porter also distributes and services the Furukawa hydraulic rock-breaker range, which is ideally suited to the Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator.

  • Distribution: tick
  • Machine: tick
  • Quality and service: tick
  • Suitability for job: tick
  • Pricing for fleet purchasing: tick.

Lots of boxes ticked here. This is a perfect fit for a difficult job.

Wide shot of Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator Boulder Wall Construction’s Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator Wide shot of Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator
Ron Horner and Hyundai R520LC-9 tracks Ron Horner shows the long track frame, fitted with life-saving track and roller guards Ron Horner and Hyundai R520LC-9 tracks
Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator engine There’s a big Cummins QSM11 turbo-diesel donk on board Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator engine
Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator at work The Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator in full working mode with the big Furukawa F70 hydraulic rock breaker in place Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator at work
Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator cabin Comfort and functionality make this machine more than adequate for a long, hard day in the quarry Hyundai R520LC-9 excavator cabin

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