Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) has looked to speed up the cycle time from the pit to the crusher at its Iron Valley mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia by integrating a fleet of Komatsu HD1500-8 haul trucks into the iron ore operation.
The time taken to haul ore from the pit floor to MRL’s locally developed crusher has been found to make a significant difference in the efficiency of the mine’s operation, and in its environmental footprint.
MRL’s technological point of difference has helped solidify its position as a leading mining services company, with EBITDA from this business coming in at more than A$300 million ($235 million) in its 2020 financial year.
In addition to its mining services business, Mineral Resources has its own mining operations, providing a great research and development platform. At the Iron Valley mine site, the 1.6 km climb from the pit floor to the crushing facility and return was the test ground for this new Komatsu equipment.
According to MRL, the cycle time with existing dump trucks was 23.84 minutes, but a new faster machine could complete the journey in 21.63 minutes – a 9.2% improvement.
Significantly, the newly available vehicle also increased payload by 10 t (the trucks come with a rated payload of 142 t), enabling MRL to complete its entire process with the need for one less vehicle in its fleet.
“Following the success of the HD1500-8, MRL placed a milestone order for 10 of our machines,” Komatsu Sales Person, Jason Lambert, said.
The first of Komatsu’s HD1500s went into service with MRL towards the end of 2020, and the remaining nine are scheduled to be road freighted from Perth this quarter.
“From a miner’s perspective, cost is a major determinant – capital cost, life cycle cost and productivity,” Lambert said. “In this instance, there was a consistent theme of 10% improvement – in purchase cost, payload and operating efficiency – an additional 10 t, 10% faster and 10% cheaper.
“But increasingly, there’s also the consideration of health and safety.”
The Komatsu HD1500-8’s Collision Awareness System, incorporating eight on board radars and six cameras combined by one algorithm into a 360° overhead view of surrounding conditions, was a major boon to operators, according to Komatsu.
In-cabin ergonomics including specific cooling systems, low vibration operation and noise attenuation pegged at 72 db met contemporary operator expectations, too.
The operator also had the option of dialling down fuel use in a range from 90 litres per hour, to 80 l/h to achieve a full two shifts of operation between refuelling.
“The pit depth at Iron Valley is 160 m, and it’s a 10% gradient from the pit floor to the top of the pit with another 900 m from the top of the pit to the crusher,” Lambert said. “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, that is the case.
“Increasingly we’re capable of working with each specific operator to fine tune our machine to their exact requirements.”