Many construction sites can be harsh and unforgiving places, but quarrying and mining sites surely sit towards the top of the list when it comes to demanding conditions for equipment. The machines used must be robust enough to withstand the conditions and be able to work for long periods without a rest – all while remaining as fuel-efficient as possible.

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The Liebherr L 586 XPower loading a truck at Hanson’s St George Quarry in Wales

In a recent interview conducted with Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), Chris Sleight, managing director of Off Highway Research commented that 2017 saw some signs of improvement for surface mining equipment, but that the market is still a long way off what it once was.

“If we use the global rigid hauler market as a proxy for the health of the mining segment, during the recent peak around 2012 global demand was about 5,500 units a year,” commented Sleight.

“When commodity prices collapsed, this fell very steeply to barely above 2,000 units in 2015, 2016 and 2017, which looked like the bottom of the cycle. It was a deep and prolonged low – but we think that we are now seeing a slow recovery forming. Notwithstanding the huge Asia-driven surge in sales last year, we see a period of slow and steady single-digit growth – in both construction and quarrying and mining.”

One of a variety of machines designed specifically for the tough conditions of the quarrying industry is Liebherr’s series of XPower wheeled loaders for quarrying applications in highly regulated countries across Europe and North America. At the heart of the XPower machine concept is the Euro Stage IV emissions standards-compliant power-split driveline. The company also offers a separate product range for less- and non-regulated countries.

Topping the range of Liebherr wheeled loaders, the L 586 XPower has recently started to work in a number of quarrying operations in North Wales, including at Hanson Aggregates. The 33-tonne wheeled loader has been supplied with Z-bar linkage on a high-lift arm arrangement that was said to give an effective load over a height of 4.5m. The high-lift arm arrangement also enables the loader to service the 50-tonne rigid dump trucks used at the quarry should the need arise. It has also been equipped with a 6m3 straight-edged bucket with a bolt-on replaceable cutting edge.

Robust machines

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The LiuGong 950E comes equipped with a Cummins EPA Tier 4 final  6-cylinder straight Variable-Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) engine

When Danliz Plant Hire in South Africa took a contract to move tonnes of material per hour for Tharisa Platinum Mine, they needed to add to their heacy construction equipment, which included four LiuGong 856 loaders. Owner of Danliz Plant Hire, Daantjie van der Merwe, commented, “That time, as the management of the company, we decided to buy the first ever LiuGong 950E in South Africa.”

After purchasing two 950E excavators, Danliz added a 970E - the first ever model manufactured in that range by LiuGong. The 970E was said to be in operation for much of the working week and, according to Danliz Plant Hire, reached almost 2,000 hours in less than seven months. The excavator also has a strong air conditioning unit in the cab  – something that is very important for working in Africa.

Volvo CE is seeking to become a heavy hitter in mining and quarrying with the launch of the new 95-tonne R100E, the largest hauler in the company’s line-up.  The R100E is built for all surface mining and quarrying applications, and Volvo CE said that customers could expect to spend less per haul with the R100E, which features a 60.4m3 capacity V-shaped body for optimum load retention and minimal material carry-back.

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The R100E is said to be built for all surface mining and quarrying applications

The R100E also focuses on operator productivity and features a ROPS/FOPS certified operator cab, which was said to offer reduced vibrations and exterior noise, and it is fitted onto viscous-type isolation mounts for greater ride quality. From the operator seat, located on the left side of the cab, the operator can observe the job site and surrounding areas through the large glass area and a low rake windscreen.

New models

Doosan has launched its top-of-the-range wheeled loader, the Stage IV-compliant DL580-5. The new model has a bucket capacity of 5.7m3, an operating weight of 36030kg and higher static tipping loads (straight/full turn 40°) of 29,700 and 26,200kg, respectively.

The DL580-5 has reinforced Z-bar kinematics for heavier lifting with few moving parts. This design was also said by the company to help stabilise the loader, enabling rapid bucket movements. As with all Doosan DL-5 models, the DL580-5 is also available in a high-lift configuration, with a longer arm enabling higher dumping of materials. The DL580-5 incorporates all of the new safety and ergonomic features announced for the other six large Doosan wheeled loaders.

The company has also launched a new version of the company’s DA30 30-tonne class articulated dump truck (ADT). Most of the changes are aimed at enhancing operator comfort and the controllability of the machine, but there are also changes in the driveline and electrical systems. The most important development is in the suspension, which has been upgraded to a hydro-gas self-levelling system to provide better performance and shock absorption, especially when the truck is being driven when it is empty.

With equipment working in conditions that can easily damage the machines, it is very important that they are easy to service. Doosan said that in the new version of the DA30 there will be lower running costs as there are a reduced number of service points, fewer different oil types in the driveline and increased intervals for transmission oil change.

Customer demand

Construction equipment manufacturer Bell Equipment said it had produced a new range of articulated 4x4 trucks due to customer demand. Following the introduction of the 60-tonne B60E two years ago, this year’s focus was on the B30E 4x4. The new two-axle truck was said by the company to offer advantages for operations that do not require extreme 6x6 off-road capability.

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The Bell B30E 4x4 is an alternative for smaller quarries

“The Bell B30E 4x4 is an alternative for smaller quarries or other operations within the aggregates sectors. Without the typical tyre scuff that a three-axle ADT experiences when operating on harder surfaces, the articulated two-axle concept guarantees substantial savings in tyre wear,” said Tristan du Pisanie, ADT product marketing manager at Bell.

Three new Caterpillar articulated trucks – the 730, 730 EJ (Ejector) and 735 – have been extensively redesigned. For instance, the design of the 730 and 730 EJ has been enhanced with automatic retarder control and a hill-start feature. The 735 retains these features from its C-Series predecessor and further incorporates significant design refinements that include a new Cat C13 ACERT engine, Cat CX31 transmission, and structural and dimensional modifications that were said to reduce empty weight by 22%.

The cab’s new external ‘spinal-ROPS’ design incorporates a rear-quarter glass pane that eliminates a structural pillar in the C-Series design, for enhanced rear visibility. A new ‘wake-up’ feature initiates the machine’s displays when the door is opened. The door is of a lighter, stronger design with a shut-assist feature for improved sealing against dust infiltration. The overall cab design was said to result in lower inside sound levels of 72dB(A), a 7dB(A) reduction compared to previous models.

Long lasting

Komatsu Europe has introduced a new 142-tonne rigid dump truck, the HD1500-8. The company said that its key components, such as the mainframe, transmission and rear axle, were designed using the latest technology and durability standards to enable owners to cut down on repair expenses and prolong overhaul intervals. Power is provided by a 16-cylinder Komatsu SDA16V159-3 engine, rated at 1,175kW.

Komatsu has also made use of the latest developments in information communications technology (ICT) to improve the HD1500-8’s reliability and maintainability, increase site and operator safety, and enhance productivity and efficiency.

“We are proud to introduce the Komatsu HD1500-8 and delighted to announce that this 142-tonne rigid dump truck is CE certified and now available for sale in Europe,” said Jeroen De Roeck, product manager at Komatsu Europe. “It’s a completely new machine, redesigned using principles developed by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) to ensure the highest safety standards.”

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Hitachi ZX 350LC hard at work on a quarry in Bulgaria

A quarry in Bulgaria run by Persenk Invest, a father and son team of Georgi and Ivan Georgiev, recently won a three-year contract with the national government’s power station and so required investment in new equipment.

They added two Hitachi Zaxis-6 excavators and ZW-6 wheeled loaders to their expanding fleet of construction machinery. The first ZX350LC-6 – and the first Zaxis-6 machine in Bulgaria – arrived at the Kurtovo Konare quarry in April 2017, with the second delivered a year later.

The more recent acquisition moves blasted marble rock from the upper levels of the 100ha site on to the quarry floor, where 3,500 tonnes of materials per day are loaded into the primary crusher by the other ZX350LC-6. The crushed materials are moved by a ZW310-6 into two piles before being loaded onto trucks that dump them into the feeding station for the secondary crushing and screening equipment.

Finally, the other ZW310-6 loads trucks in the stockyard with the finished products for onward transportation to the power plant, 160km away, or other customer sites within a radius of 30km of the quarry.

The operator of the first Zaxis-6 in Bulgaria, Dimitar Georgiev, said, “The ZX350LC-6 is powerful and fast, as well as being easy to operate and enjoyable to work with. It is smoother than the previous model, which means that I am not as tired after a long shift. The cab is also very comfortable and quiet – it is well-suited to the demands of a quarrying environment.”

Another worksite that has recently taken delivery of new equipment is Africa’s second-largest open pit copper mine, Lumwana, in Zambia, when China-based firm Sany delivered equipment to the world’s largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold.

With an annual mining and stripping volume of 60 million tonnes, Lumwana copper mine is one of the company’s major projects in Zambia, as well as Africa’s second-largest open-pit copper mine. The batch of equipment delivered includes SY750H and SY500H excavators, an SRT95C mining truck, and an STC500 crane.

According to the head of Lumwana copper mine, the previous batch of Sany excavators delivered went into operation in mid-2017. The working conditions of mining areas are harsh compared to ordinary construction sites, but Sany excavators were said to have worked 22 hours per day to accomplish numerous mining and stripping missions.

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