Glencore’s Compania Minera Lomas Bayas (CMLB) copper mine is located some 120 km NE of Antofagasta, Chile and extracts low grade oxide copper ore. A major focus currently is to increase productivity and reduce operational costs, as well as focussing on safety and sustainability. As such, the mine recently implemented its new Ultra Class Project involving the updating of the loading and transportation process in 2021 with a new fleet of Komatsu 930E-5 304 t class haul trucks into the operation and matching them with the existing Komatsu P&H 4100XPC shovels.
The project is significant as CMLB is the first user in Chile of this truck and one of the first in the world. Not only that but the first operator of the 930E-5 is female – Rosa Astudillo, a personal achievement for her and a source of pride for the Lomas Bayas team. Astudillo belongs to the second generation of the Mujeres a la Carga program at CMLB. She states: “Working in mining and operating this equipment has been quite a positive experience and a great challenge for me. I am proud to be the first woman in Chile to operate the Komatsu 930E-5.”
“For those of us who work in Lomas Bayas, this important announcement symbolises a new stage in our management, always seeking safety and sustainability in our operation, says Ivan Albie, General Manager. For his part, Pedro Medar, Maintenance Manager, says “Project Ultra Class has been designed for the continuous improvement of our operational performance.”
In 2020 the first two new high-tonnage trucks, numbers 58 and 59 in the fleet, arrived at the mine, the first of 27 trucks expected to arrive by the end of 2021. “The arrival of this new fleet implies a profound change in the safety and productivity of the operation. Going from small-scale equipment to about KMS 930E-5, which has a nominal capacity of 304 t, is a challenge and an excellent opportunity for Lomas Bayas and Glencore” explains Mine Operations Superintedent Marcelo Zuniga, who points out that the goal of 262,000 t/d movement is being reached through good mining practices across all CMLB operators.
The truck measures 9.6 m wide from mirror to mirror, which is an important difference in relation to the size that is currently used in the company. New ramps 38 m wide have been developed for the dimensions and characteristics of this equipment. “The 930E-5 has a higher speed, 24 or 27 kilometres per hour, on average, being able to reach 40 kilometres per hour downhill, according to the speed rhythm,” indicates Zuniga, adding that the load is also different: a minimum of 304 t, therefore the mine is also equipping its P&H 4100 XPC shovels with a new 77 yd3 bucket, compared to the current 56 yd3 capacity.
Chief of Electrical Maintenance, Yordy Castro, comments that the 930E-5 also has a proximity system that alerts operators about any equipment that is nearby, as well as cameras in the cabin, on the sides and to the rear. “These trucks also have a state-of-the-art braking and control system, which is an extremely relevant point in relation to safety. in terms of performance, it has a number of characteristics that make it a leading truck in technology and safety.”
Currently, the training process is being carried out. Mine Instructor, Gerardo Lagos, says this began with a theoretical class given by Komatsu personnel to instructors and monitors at CMLB. This is done in order that they can be certified in the correct way to operate the trucks. “After the end of the first stage, the process of theoretical training for operators begins,” said Lagos, supplemented with a simulator the mine has on-site. “This model has a proximity alert system that incorporates radars and perimeter cameras for greater and better control of the interaction between extraction equipment and light equipment,” says Mining Manager, Felipe Bunout, who also highlights that this technological change not only aims at the productivity and efficiency of the mine, but also at achieving the goals set in the mining plan for the coming years.
Zuniga summarises the new fleet effect at CMLB: “The integration and change of the transport fleet intrinsically brings a different way of mining in Compañía Minera Lomas Bayas. The arrival of the 930E-5 trucks has started an operational transformation, which includes Komatsu 4100 shovels, with 77 cubic yard buckets and trucks with the capacity to transport up to 313 t on average. How have we prepared for this challenge? The process begins with training oriented in good practices and operational standards according to the new technologies that these teams bring. Our goal is to work based on the sustainability of the business, always prioritising safety and also productivity. With this innovation, we will undoubtedly contribute to better performance, to the fulfilment of the goals set at the Mine Operations level, of our company and of all of Glencore.”
Gerardo Lagos, Mine Instructor adds on new technology: “The main characteristic of this equipment is that the delay system, known as RSC, no longer exists. Now, we are working with the SC, a system that allows speed control, both uphill and downhill, by allowing the operator to program it through a screen called Actia. Another very special feature that this truck has is that the inverter system works with alternating current, unlike its predecessors that worked with direct current specifically in the inverter blowers. In short, we have trucks with state-of-the-art technology, cabins with greater comfort and above all, safer equipment.”
Gabriel Martinez, KMTS Senior Instructor says: “The field instruction includes in its first stage, carrying out a pre-operational check and deepening the knowledge of components and equipment operation. The operator then begins to familiarise himself with the reactions of the steering, retarding system, and braking system, as this 930E-5 truck represents a significant technological leap from today’s fleet. Subsequently, traffic circuits are carried out in the mine in a normal way, with loading and loading of material, to certify compliance with all the protocols for the operation of the equipment.”
Marcos Huerta, CMLB Mine Instructor comments: “Once the operators completed the theoretical training, held in Antofagasta, we began with the practical stage. Together with Komatsu colleagues, we started with the double check, which means validating skills and ensuring correct compliance with the procedures of the 930E-5 equipment in the mine, in transport and loading. Once we finish training with the operator, we deliver an internal authorisation that goes to their personal folder. After that, we do a weekly follow-up, according to the training program.”