Tag Archives: Excavators

Berco’s mining undercarriage transition takes shape in Copparo

With the opening of Berco’s new R&D facility in Copparo, Italy, the manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage systems and components has cemented a growth plan that could see it gain further market share in both its OEM and aftermarket segments and expand its product range for mining applications.

Covering 2,000 sq.m, the new department is located beside the entrance of the company’s main plant, a building that captures 101 years of company history and is being updated with a new vision backed by parent company thyssenkrupp.

The new R&D hub is home to the T&I (technology and innovation) team, which will be divided into two subgroups: the metallurgical laboratory and product engineering.

Officially opened on November 17 – IM and other trade press members received a sneak peek a day earlier – the facility houses state-of-the-art machinery, specifically developed to advance the company’s strategic plans for the future.

These strategic plans date back to early 2018 when, as part of the Forged Technologies business unit, Berco developed a strategy that encompassed “lean manufacturing” and the company’s unique know-how, according to Berco CEO, Piero Bruno.

“We have a unique know-how of metallurgy within Berco,” he said during last week’s press event. “We, as part of Forged Technologies, represent a strategic pillar for thyssenkrupp. We are a core business within the group (thyssenkrupp Industrial Components).”

The latter is an important point considering the divestments thyssenkrupp has been making in recent years – which includes plans to offload its mining business to FLSmidth. Berco has been safeguarded from this corporate activity, evidenced by the recent investment in its facilities.

Berco is a rarity in the mining sector; a company able to deliver the full undercarriage (chains, rollers, drive sprockets, track adjusters, track chains or idlers) for large dozers and excavators, for both aftermarket applications and equipment manufacturers. Mining and construction represent more than 30% of its sales currently, with on-highway trucks and passenger vehicles taking up around 60% of the remaining share.

There are other undercarriage suppliers on the market, but few of them have 32,000 t and 16,000 t screw presses capable of forging the scale of products needed in heavy-duty mining applications. Even fewer have the expertise to take an industry-standard product and tailor it for longer life and increased uptime in such applications.

This puts Berco in an interesting position where, in some instances, it is producing components or complete systems that compete directly with the equipment manufacturers.

In the instance of the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel, Berco has built a complete undercarriage system as an alternative to the OEM equivalent on the market.

Outside of dozers and excavators, the Berco name has also been seen on components fitted on apron feeders and bucketwheel excavators. It may also soon find its way into conveyors (on the aftermarket side) and drill rigs (for equipment manufacturers), in addition to new excavator and dozer models.

Going platinum

When it comes to mining equipment innovation from Berco, one only need look at the Platinum line of products, which are focused solely on performance in the field and operating costs.

The new Cat 6020B undercarriage (below, right) is the most recent addition to this line, also representing the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company.

With this product, Berco becomes the only company – aside from Cat – currently capable of providing what it says is a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this model currently due undercarriage maintenance.

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

Berco-originated innovations that feature on this non-captive undercarriage system include the BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system) to improves the working lifetime of the components through mechanical locking of the link to the pin; a newly designed track link for the track chain with a 350 mm pitch produced using the “drop forged” process made from mild carbon steel with boron and chromium additives; and track bushings with 60 HRC hardness steel that have a high resistance to wear.

Additionally, the track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration ranging from -40°C to 50°C.

The first of these new undercarriages is due to be dispatched from Copparo by the end of the year, destined for a customer in Africa.

This type of aftermarket strategy – where the company identifies a product area and develops an improved industry solution in line with expected maintenance intervals – could end up being used for future products if proven successful, Francesco Grenzi, Executive Director of R&D Department, told IM.

Grenzi and his new T&I team are integral to making this happen.

Having in the past four years added five new patents to the Berco offering, the R&D head is keen to develop products that outperform the industry standard and are tailored to the application at hand.

He can already point to several success stories in the dozer and excavator categories even before the first 6020B goes out the door.

For example, one of the company’s Platinum line undercarriage systems for dozers is outperforming the OEM equivalent by up to 25-35%. It performs in an extremely consistent manner for applications used in different conditions such as hard rock, coal or copper mines. Platinum line products are available along the complete mining dozer range, from 350 hp (261 kW) to 1,000 hp crawler dozers.

Other Platinum line products already on the market include high strength track link, ground engaging tools and its Robustus (ROtating BUShing Track Undercarriage System) solution.

Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket, said these products represent a “niche” for the company when compared with the thousands of components and systems Berco produces on an annual basis, but their development also provides “an open door” for other sales.

“The Platinum line will contribute to growth, but it will not be the main driver,” he said. “It will help with our marketing presence, though…where we are able to show that Berco has a solution for every application worldwide.”

The development of such ‘best of breed’ solutions will have a knock-on impact on all the products that come out of Copparo, according to Bruno.

“If you look at F1, for example, you can see what manufacturers can produce for high-performance sports cars when budgets are not scrutinised or restricted to the same extent as they are in traditional markets,” he told IM.

“We see the Platinum line as potentially uplifting the wider Berco portfolio, which will also have a positive impact on the products going to our OEM customers.”

Automation and digitalisation

Observations like this are now being backed up by an increased focus on digitalisation and remote monitoring of Berco products.

This starts with digital records of tests in the new R&D facility – where there is a benchmark room, a metallurgical lab, a revamped roller test bench, updated rubber testing machines able to perform cryostatic tests for anticipated performance at very low temperatures and a new spectrometer machine, to name a few innovations – through to automated data analysis during the manufacturing process to ensure products are matched to their final applications, and finally 3D geometric scans for product benchmarking against the competition.

The company’s Bopis Life system has now moved onto generation two where undercarriage measurement and wear conditions are monitored remotely using ultrasonic probes. This enables predictive maintenance of critical parts, while supporting fleet management, the company said. Berco currently has 15 licences for this system, backed up by 22 ultrasonic probes that provide such feedback. This is some improvement on the ‘traditional’ monitoring of undercarriage components that normally takes place on mine sites with callipers and clipboards.

Berco is also looking to add in-built sensors to track links to provide real-time wear performance data that customers and company technicians can use to improve machine uptime. These are termed “smart undercarriages”.

The digitalisation and innovation do not end here.

What is perhaps most impressive about the 101-year-old company is its willingness to change with the times.

In 2018, it brought in Mario Andaloni as Chief Operating Officer to steer a €40 million ($44.9 million) project to refurbish and invest in the company’s facilities in Copparo.

This massive job has seen the company de-centralise its energy sources to a much more efficient and modern heating system that will achieve a 13% decrease in gas consumption in the first year alone; re-design the steel yard in line with a ‘lean manufacturing’ methodology; reorient its forging, heat treatment and shoes areas; and significantly reduce the company’s waste footprint. A more strategic and efficient use of robots in the manufacturing process is also coming to the fore.

The principles that Andaloni has instilled are set to pay off when it comes to the output of equipment.

When asked what impact the project was likely to have on product turnaround times when completed in 2023, he said the aim was for products that required no forging or component additions to take five days to manufacture. When forging and components were added on, the target was 10 days.

“Currently we are around 20 days duration for the complete process,” he told IM. “Before we started this new lean manufacturing strategy, we were around 35 days to make products; that was without forging included.”

These durations don’t include the raw material deliveries into Copparo and transport requirements from the facility, but they are a major signal of the company’s intent to make a real impact on the undercarriage supply chain.

The initiation of an e-commerce platform for Berco aftermarket dealers across the globe – due to launch in late January – will make the company “more agile, more flexible, more in line with the needs of today’s global market”, Bruno said. It will inevitably capitalise on the work Andaloni and his team have been doing on optimising the factory workflow, too, allowing customers to see product availability as well as potential lead times.

All these developments are setting Berco up to capitalise on increased demand from both the mining and construction sectors, with it anticipating future sales increases across both its aftermarket and OEM segments into the future.

On the latter, Buffoni said there was potential to address a market worth some €23 billion in the future with key production additions and developments backed up by an aftermarket organisation that is proactive and flexible. He currently saw Berco playing in a €2 billion market, divided 50:50 between mining and construction.

His counterpart on the OEM side, Fedele Salvatore (Head of Sales OEM), said there were many opportunities to grow its own 13% market share in the €2 billion undercarriage global original equipment market through a “funnel” approach that included more engagement with existing and new original equipment customers, entries into new regional markets in key areas such as Asia and further diversification of the product line.

A re-focus on providing complete undercarriage systems, as opposed to components, would also go some way to achieving growth aims.

What is clear is that the Berco name, 101 years after its birth, has a bright future in the mining segment. By the end of 2023, it will have the equipment and infrastructure to serve a market in need of robust solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s mines.

Baidu Research Robotics and Auto-Driving Lab present autonomous excavator concept

Researchers from Baidu Research Robotics and Auto-Driving Lab (RAL) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) say they have developed a real-time mapping approach for autonomous navigation of excavators on complex terrains, named Terrain Traversability Mapping (TTM), that is being showcased at MINExpo 2021 this week.

Using TTM, an autonomous excavator can navigate through unstructured outdoor environments consisting of deep pits, steep hills, rock piles and other complex terrain features, according to the companies involved. This is the first complex terrain processing approach developed for heavy-duty excavation machines, they say.

To enable autonomous excavators to handle complex terrains, the researchers developed an efficient learning-based geometric method to extract terrain features from RGB images and 3D point clouds and incorporate them into a global map for planning and navigation.

The method uses physical characteristics of the excavator, including maximum climbing degree and machine specifications, to determine the traversable area, adapt to changing environments and update the terrain information in real time.

In addition, these researchers have prepared a “novel” autonomous excavator terrain dataset, which consists of RGB images and LiDAR point clouds from construction sites with seven different categories based on navigability. This integrates the mapping approach with planning and control modules to continuously improve the autonomous excavator navigation system, they say.

“Experiments showed that while using TTM, an excavator can navigate through unstructured environments with a much higher success rate compared to existing planning schemes,” the companies said.

The new TTM technique comes on the heels of another innovation Baidu RAL and UMD co-developed this June – an autonomous excavator system (AES) that can perform material loading tasks for 24 hours without any human intervention, while offering performance nearly equivalent to that of an experienced human operator.

ERG to acquire Hitachi EH4000 AC-3 trucks, EX5600E excavators for SSGPO operation

Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) has signed a cooperation agreement with Eurasian Machinery LLP, the official provider of Hitachi specialised equipment in Central Asia.

The agreement will see 12 Hitachi EH4000 AC-3 dump trucks and two Hitachi EX5600E hydraulic excavators delivered this year to the Kacharsky open pit iron ore mine, part of ERG’s Sokolov-Sarybai Mining Production Operation (SSGPO), in Kazakhstan.

This stands as one of the most significant acquisitions of specialised mining equipment in Kazakhstan’s history, according to ERG.

The new equipment, boasting 220 t lifting capacity, will be used for overburden operations and the transportation of iron ore, and is part of a large-scale reconstruction of the entire Kacharsky site aimed at a considerable increase in iron ore production volumes at SSGPO, ERG says.

The delivery of the specialised equipment will offer remarkable increases in load capacity and provide further advantages when working on a large scale, according to the company.

In addition to delivering specialised equipment, Eurasian Machinery will perform a wide range of maintenance works, including the construction of service infrastructure and the supply of necessary spare parts over the next 10 years. They will also offer specialised simulator training to ERG’s drivers.

As part of the agreement, which will be carried out according to the maintenance and repair contract principles, ERG will purchase up to 50 units of specialised mining equipment.

Berco bolsters Excavator Line with Cat 6020B undercarriage replacement range

Berco, a leader in the manufacturing and supply of undercarriages and components to OEMs and the aftermarket, has reached another milestone with the launch of its complete undercarriage replacement range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel.

Developed specifically for the high-quality demand mining segment of the aftermarket, this is the first “non-captive” range available to purchase, according to the company. This means that aside from Cat, Berco is the only company currently capable of providing a full and significantly more affordable variety of undercarriage replacement components for this particular machine, Berco said.

Launched in 2014, the Cat 6020B is a 230 ton (224 t) excavator at the high end of the mining range. Depending on the abrasiveness of the soil, undercarriage components need to be replaced every four-to-five years, according to Berco, meaning there are significant numbers of this particular model currently due undercarriage maintenance. This number, moreover, is forecast to grow in the coming years.

To meet this demand, Berco is supplying a full range of undercarriage components including the chain, the bottom rollers, the top rollers, the drive sprocket and idlers with supports. Everything is set to be available from September onwards.

“These machines must be capable of working in harsh environments for 20-24 hours a day without stopping, because when the main excavator on a site is out of service, it has a direct knock-on effect on all of the secondary machines,” Diego Buffoni, Head of Aftermarket Berco, said. “We are particularly proud of this new range launch, which will offer a great business opportunity for our partner distributors worldwide. On top of Berco’s acclaimed high quality, which it provides, it also signifies the path we are on, which is to supply comprehensive and affordable solutions to all aftermarket customers.”

For the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel range, Berco used a “reverse engineering” process to deconstruct the original equipment components. Three-dimensional material scanning was carried out to gain a complete understanding of the initial design criteria, while laboratory analysis determined the materials used as well as the heat treatments and microstructures.

“Having gained a full understanding of all of the components in question, company engineers then proceeded to develop their very own Berco-quality aftermarket undercarriage system, which is further boosted by the addition of another Berco innovation: BPR2™ (Berco Positive Pin Retention2™ system),” the company said. “This improves the working lifetime of the components by mechanically locking the link to the pin which results in the avoidance of ‘end-play generation’ and ‘pin walking’ in an undercarriage.”

For the track chain, a newly designed track link with a 350 mm pitch was produced using the “drop forged” process made from a mild carbon steel grade with boron. Unlike the original equipment product, however, the chemical composition of the Berco version is enriched with chromium to increase tensile resistance. In addition, the track bushing has a high resistance to wear. With 60 HRC hardness, it can contain pitch elongation, according to the company. The case depth has also been increased by 20-25% when compared with the original. The track pin, moreover, has deeper case depth and higher core hardiness, resulting in an improved bending load resistance, Berco said.

The track roller can, because of its lubrication and seal features, adopt an “all-weather” configuration, ranging from -40°C to 50°C. Additionally, three top rollers without a central flange support the heavy weight of the chain, and the oil filling hole has been moved to the outer collar to ensure full access to it.

With Berco’s Dozer Line already complete, the launch of its range for the Cat 6020B hydraulic mining shovel brings the company closer to finishing its Excavator Line too.

Accounting for a large portion of all aftermarket sales, Berco says the mining market segment is of particular importance to it. The company is now looking to further strengthen its position by extending its mining ranges and becoming the only high-quality alternative to OEM components.

Liebherr plans interoperability, scalability and zero emissions announcements at MINExpo 2021

Liebherr will showcase its latest innovative equipment, technology and services for the mining industry at MINExpo 2021, with a world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio and announcements related to its ‘zero emissions’ program likely to provide the ‘headlines’.

Covering a total area of more than 2,600 sq.m, Liebherr’s booth will present advancements from its Mining, Mobile Cranes and Components product segments during the Las Vegas show on September 13-15.

Liebherr Mining will display the R 9150 Generation 7 (G7) 130 t excavator, the next generation of excavator cab from the recently announced R 9600 G8, the PR 776 70 t mining dozer with LiReCon teleoperation system, the newly introduced T 274 305 t haul truck along with a display from Liebherr Components, and the LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane from Liebherr Mobile Cranes.

New developments and exciting announcements will be presented from Liebherr Mining’s new technology portfolio, as well as the pathway forward into low and zero emission mining, it said.

Attendees will be able to interact with new technologies through a virtual reality (VR) booth and discover Liebherr’s technology at daily masterclasses held with Liebherr experts. Those who cannot attend in person will not miss out, with all exhibits, announcements and showcases from the expo also delivered on Liebherr’s website and social media channels.

Liebherr will introduce three new excavators at MINExpo: the R 9150 Generation 7 (machine showcased on the booth), the R 9200 Generation 7, and the brand-new R 9600 Generation 8 (cabin showcased on the booth).

These three machines establish the new naming strategy based on technology levels for Liebherr machines, with this approach designed to achieve a common and long-term logic within the earthmoving and mining product ranges in a clear manner, Liebherr said.

All three excavators are equipped with the latest innovations including Liebherr Power Efficiency, Assistance Systems and Bucket Filling Assistant.

LPE (Liebherr Power Efficiency) is a specific engine and hydraulic management system, which drastically reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%, the company says.

Assistance Systems are advanced on-board applications designed to support the operator to become more efficient through analytics and actionable insights. These will be presented physically in the R 9600’s cabin and on tablets displayed on the booth. Visitors can also discover the Assistance Systems through an immersive experience in the VR area.

BFA, meanwhile, is the first automation product of the Liebherr hydraulic excavator portfolio, which allows the operator to realise the bucket filling process automatically.

T 274 mining truck

Liebherr has recently extended its product offering with the T 274, a class-leading 305 t haul truck. This new truck bridges the gap between the T 284 and T 264.

Designed and adapted from years of experience in mining truck development, the T 274 is a “true 305 t machine” that provides fast cycle times, higher production rates, low fuel consumption and a low cost per tonne, Liebherr said. This new truck follows the same base design as the T 284, benefitting from its decades of field experience. A wide range of options are available including the Liebherr Trolley Assist System and Liebherr Autonomy Kit.

PR 776 dozer and LiReCon teleoperation system

Liebherr will also showcase its flagship mining dozer, the PR 776 Litronic, which, the company says, delivers best-in-class efficiency. The machine will be on display together with the new LiReCon (Liebherr Remote Control, pictured at the top) Liebherr teleoperation system. LiReCon provides additional comfort and safety for operators in tough mining applications, according to the company.

Liebherr components and D98 diesel engine series

Liebherr components for mining applications will also feature at MINExpo. Among the components is the D98 diesel engine series, which is available for both Liebherr and other mining equipment manufacturers, for new and repowered machines. The V-16 engine of the D98 family, the D9816, will not only be on display at the booth but is also at the heart of the exhibited T 274 haul truck. This marks the beginning of the integration of the D98 series into Liebherr machines, Liebherr says.

LRT 1090-2.1 rough terrain crane

The LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane is designed to deliver the highest safety level.

Fitted as standard with an outrigger monitor, which automatically detects the support status and includes the crane control system, it also comes equipped with the VarioBase® variable support base to enhance flexibility on site and increase the crane’s lifting capacity. The LRT 1090-2.1 features a 47 m telescopic boom, which consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a rope extension mechanism. This has been designed for high telescoping lifting capacities.

New innovations

Liebherr will present the world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio at MINExpo. This will demonstrate the company’s interoperable and scalable approach to its equipment, technology and service product offerings, it said.

This portfolio, consisting of Liebherr’s Assistance Systems, Machine Automation and Digital Service products, will provide customers with “flexible scope of supply solutions to increase safety and asset operational effectiveness”, it said.

Together, these products will support operator’s performance, optimise diagnostic processes and automate machine functions, while integrating machine data and OEM expertise within the customer’s chosen technology landscapes, the company added.

Zero emissions

Liebherr says it strives for long-term sustainable solutions, investigating different options focused on safety, cost, reliability, maintainability and flexibility. Liebherr Mining already offers a range of solutions to help customers achieve low emissions, including a full range of electric excavators. It also plans to provide a full range of trolley-capable mining trucks.

“Further to this, Liebherr Mining has a clear vision and roadmap to expand its current offering to achieve low fossil fuel solutions in 2022, along with fossil fuel free solutions for the majority of applications by 2030,” it said. “At MINExpo, strategic partnerships with energy and infrastructure providers will be announced, alongside the roadmap for Liebherr to provide these solutions to our customers.”

NRW in line for A$702 million Karara Mining iron ore gig

NRW has received a letter of intent from Karara Mining Ltd to carry out mining services works at the Karara iron ore mine in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.

Subject to reaching agreement with Karara, the anticipated value of the contract is around A$702 million ($529 million) over a five-year duration with a project workforce averaging circa-250 personnel.

MACA, through its recently acquired Mining West business, currently holds the contract mining agreement at Karara.

The works to be performed include load and haul, drill and blast, and run of mine re-handling. The drill and blast component will be undertaken by NRW’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Action Drill & Blast Pty Ltd. In addition, the work includes train loading and re-handling of the product stockpiles together with “miscellaneous day works” at the mine site, camp and access roads.

Karara is the largest mining operation and the first major magnetite mine in the Mid West region. It produces a premium, high-grade concentrate that it exports to steelmakers.

“With an expected mine life of 30-plus years, Karara’s operation includes a large open-pit mine, complex ore processing and beneficiation plant and significant infrastructure and logistics networks,” NRW said.

NRW estimates an equipment capital expenditure of around A$170 million to be progressively spent over the term, which will include the purchase of three 600 t face shovel excavators and a fleet of 220 t trucks.

NRW CEO, Jules Pemberton, said: “With a strong local presence in the area through our Geraldton-based DIAB Engineering business and our mining contract with Gascoyne Resources at the Dalgaranga mine site, we look forward to continuing to support the existing and highly experienced workforce on site through this transition, as well as creating employment opportunities for the Gascoyne region community.”

Karara CEO, Changjiang Zhu, said: “NRW is an established Western Australia-based mining and civil contractor with extensive open-cut mining experience gained through a number of successful mining operations in the state. Offering new prime equipment, NRW has the capability to undertake the entire Karara scope of work comprising a broad range of mining, construction and engineering services.

“We look forward to negotiation of an agreement with NRW and commencement of mining services early next year.”

Liebherr launches its R 9600 hydraulic mining excavator, part of a new generation

After years of development, the Mining Division of the Liebherr Group has launched today the new R 9600 hydraulic excavator. This 600 t excavator, it says, sets new standards in the open-pit mining market. The successor of the popular Liebherr R 996B has entered the market after gaining a year of field experience in Australia, the largest market for 600 t class excavators. This new development builds on years of customer-centric research and is based upon the successful R 9800 800 t excavator. A total of eight units will be operating in Australia by the end if 2021. The R 9600 will enter serial production at the end of this year.

Customer input has played an important and pivotal role in the development of this new machine. Engineering, sales and marketing teams have collected feedback and insights from mine site equipment operators, maintenance personnel and procurement groups as well as executive management to have a clear understanding of the challenges they meet every day.

The new R 9600 aims to reach the highest standard in terms of safety, sustainability, performance, lifetime, total cost of ownership (TCO), ease of maintenance and more. After testing the first prototypes at the factory proving grounds in Colmar, France, in early 2020, the first R 9600 pre-series excavators started operating in iron ore and coal applications in Australia. Liebherr, together with its two very important customers, BHP and Thiess, started the partnered validation of the first two units in the field. Backed by this succesful validation phase, the R 9600 is ready to enter the global market.

Diverse offering of powertrains including electric drive

The R 9600 is equipped with two QSK50 Cummins engines with advanced combustion technologies. Understanding that fuel costs form the major portion of the TCO for mining machines, Liebherr has developed and implemented LPE  (Liebherr Power Efficiency) solutions. These proprietary management systems for the engine and hydraulic system controls substantially reduce fuel consumption without compromising the overall productivity of the machine. These new features grant also an additional step toward the Liebherr emission reduction solutions. For emission-regulated regions, a US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage V compliant version is available with the latest SCR after-treatment technology. Complying with stringent emission regulations, the SCR system reduces nitrogen oxides by injecting a liquid reductant into the exhaust stream. An electric drive version will be available soon, a productive choice for mine sites having the required electrical infrastructure.

Weight-optimised attachment

The R 9600 attachment makes use of smart component design such as the patented “EVO” backhoe bucket, hydraulic cylinders, shift levers, bucket links and attachment pins. The result is an increased overall production rate without compromising component lifetime. In standard backhoe configuration with a Heavy Duty wear package, the R 9600 comes with a 37.5 m³/49.1 yd³ bucket to deliver an ideal truck/shovel match with Liebherr mining trucks. It loads 190 t trucks in three passes, T 264 240 t trucks in four passes, T 274 300 t trucks in five passes and T 284 375 t trucks in six passes. The excavator is also available in face shovel configuration equipped with a 37 m³/48.4 yd³ shovel, as standard with a Heavy Duty wear package.

Long-lasting performance

Designed to be used in all applications globally, the R 9600 is built to last over 80,000 machine operational hours. Further improving machine reliability, the uppercarriage structure is a completely new development. The robust undercarriage, with a fatigue resistant steel structure, is enhanced with a new hydraulic track tensioning system. The standard sealed for life heavy-duty carrier and track rollers incorporate the patented roller path design and registered track pad design. As an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Liebherr has built a solid reputation in the development and production of high quality components for mining applications. The R 9600 benefits from this reputation through reliable components that are developed and manufactured by Liebherr. The R 9600 utilises the latest quality control systems to ensure the best reliability and highest performance.

The latest cabin generation

The R 9600 has a brand-new cabin designed by operators for operators – it is a first-class, state of the art 14 m³/150 ft³ working space. The cab design reduces vibrations and limits noise to 69 dB, providing a comfortable working environment for the operator. To allow for the best possible working conditions, Liebherr engineers have placed the cab of the R 996 successor back on the left side, standardising with other excavators in the range. The operator’s seat has been positioned as far left as possible in order to provide the best operator visibility of the attachment and working area. Ambient and low-level LED lights make working at night easier and safer. The operator station is user-friendly and equipped with modern touch screen displays. The air conditioning system for the cabin is a modular design concept which is easily exchanged as a rotable component, as single or dual air conditioning systems are available. To further enhance the operator comfort, vacuum cleaner, premium cooled seats, HEPA filtration system and many more features are available. The R 9600 offers a superior machine perimeter visibility system comprising of four cameras at strategic locations on the rotating uppercarriage. The dedicated monitor inside the cabin provides continuous 270° vision around the machine.

Assistance Systems and on-board controls

Setting new standards in the mining industry, the R 9600 is equipped with the Liebherr Assistance Systems. These advanced on-board applications are designed to support the operators in becoming more efficient through analytics and actionable insights from live data. The Truck Loading Assistant helps the operator attain optimal productivity and efficiency. With 99% measurement accuracy, the system measures the instantaneous bucket payload and provides real-time information to the operator. The Truck Loading Assistant strategises the number of passes required to achieve the target payload of the truck, and also provides a progressive update in achieving the strategy.

In addition, to provide operators and customers with productivity KPIs of the machine performance, the severity of the application and the operational conformance of the machine is realised in real-time on the machine. The first Liebherr hydraulic excavator (HEX) Automation Product introduced to the mining industry is the Bucket Filling Assistant, an adaptive or semi-autonomous digging product available as an option for the backhoe version of machines. It allows for easier and faster bucket filling with a consistent bucket fill factor, load after load, even in the toughest digging conditions. As a result, the overall productivity improves while the operator’s fatigue level is reduced.

Designed for safe 24/7 operation and maintenance

Liebherr product development is centred around protecting the customer’s most important assets. The R 9600 was designed with respect to global safety standards for operators and maintenance personnel, ensuring that safety remains a top priority at all times. The upper carriage of the R 9600 has been designed to allow for quick and easy maintenance activities, and is accessible via a hydraulically controlled ergonomic 45° stairway. Enlarged walkways with handrails and non-slip perforated steps allow for safe and convenient inspections and maintenance at all levels of the machine, including engine and powertrain components. All major parts have been designed and positioned to allow easy access and quicker maintenance. The central service flap provides fluid and lubricant access to all components and systems, which reduces potential downtimes. Component and system refill and drain points of the R 9600 are accessible from ground level with quick couplings and depressurising valves.

R 9600 continues to write the success story

The R 9600 builds on two strong models of the Liebherr mining excavator portfolio: the R 996B and the R 9800. The first R 996 was introduced in 1995, followed by the R 996B in 2000.

“This very popular machine has been the benchmark in the mining market for the past 25 years, especially in Australia, where over 70% of these excavators have or are operating today accumulating 5.5 million machine hours,” the company said. “The R 9600 is not only further building on the success of its predecessor but is also inspired by its big brother, the popular 800 t R 9800, sharing a long list of components that have been proven on the R 9800 over the past 10 years. As with all Liebherr mining equipment, the predecessor models R 996 and R 996B will continue to be supported with remanufacturing, repair and customer support services for the duration of the machine’s lifetime.”

Capital builds up mining fleet for Sukari gold mine work

Capital is well on the way to securing a suitable fleet to carry out the open-pit waste mining contract at Centamin’s Sukari gold mine, with additional trucks recently arriving in Egypt and payments “significantly progressed” for all major long lead equipment required to service the operation.

Equity proceeds from the recent $40 million share placing were received in late December 2020, facilitating these further payments, according to Capital.

The 120 Mt open-pit waste mining contract at Sukari will see Capital provide load and haul and ancillary services over a period of four years. At the same time, the existing drilling contract at Sukari has been extended to December 31, 2024, (from September 30, 2023) and expanded by nine additional blasthole rigs, bringing the rigs operating at Sukari to 24 in total.

Included in the long lead items are 17 Cat 785 dump trucks, seven blasthole drill rigs, three excavators, and all major ancillary support equipment including dozers, graders and water trucks. Capital said additional trucks had recently arrived in Egypt, supplementing the initial truck fleet that arrived during the December quarter of 2020.

Capital also said it has made substantial progress on several of the debt facilities contemplated in the capital raising prospectus related to the Sukari contract including:

  • Executing the $2.6 million vendor finance agreement with Epiroc with full draw down against the purchase of three new blasthole rigs;
  • Fully drawing down on the remaining tranches of the $10 million Macquarie facility following finalisation of the Sukari contracts and security registration in Egypt; and
  • The committed and available vendor finance facility with Sandvik for $8.5 million is expected to be used over the course of the March quarter against the purchase of four new blasthole rigs.

Jamie Boyton, Capital Executive Chairman, said it was pleasing to note that site activity was progressing well with the continued expansion of its extensive on-site facilities, “further asset arrivals and the recruitment of key personnel to prepare for the commencement of preliminary mining activity in late Q1 (March quarter) as planned”.

MACA increases open-pit scale by acquiring Downer EDI’s Mining West business

MACA has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Downer EDI Limited’s Mining West business in a deal that could involve a consideration of A$175 million ($132 million).

Just last week, MACA said it was considering the potential purchase of Downer EDI Limited’s Mining West division as part of a stated plan to explore and pursue growth opportunities that will deliver “value to shareholders on an ongoing basis”.

The Mining West business currently comprises four large contracts at the long-life assets of Karara (Ansteel), Eliwana (Fortescue Metals Group), Cape Preston (CITIC Pacific) and Gruyere (Gold Fields, Gold Road Resources).

MACA’s CEO and Managing Director, Mike Sutton, said the acquisition provided MACA with a very meaningful addition of a large-scale mining fleet currently engaged across these projects. This comprises 14 excavators and shovels, 65 dump trucks, 11 surface drills and 36 other ancillary machines.

The fleet being acquired is currently fully utilised, or in the process of being deployed to projects, with the equipment having mixed life (with machines being on average mid-life). MACA says its due diligence has confirmed the machines are in good working order, having been well maintained by Mining West’s internal plant department.

With the inclusion of Mining West, MACA now has total contracted work in hand of over A$3.4 billion, which provides a robust revenue base well past its 2025 financial year, Sutton added.

Macmahon banks coal mining work with Foxleigh joint venture

Macmahon Holdings confirms it has been selected as the preferred tenderer to provide equipment hire and maintenance services at the Foxleigh joint venture operation in Queensland, Australia, from March 1, 2021.

The Foxleigh mine is an open pit, truck and excavator operation in the Bowen Basin, which produces low volatile PCI coal for Asia steel mill customers.

The proposed scope of work for Macmahon involves the hire and maintenance of 21 large capacity dump trucks and other ancillary equipment over a five-year term, together with the maintenance of client-owned equipment.

Macmahon estimates this work will generate around A$250 million ($177 million) in revenue and require capital expenditure of circa-A$50 million. Most of this capital expenditure will be to acquire 220 t dump trucks, which are expected to have a useful life of 10 years, Macmahon says.

Michael Finnegan, CEO and Managing Director of Macmahon, said: “We are very pleased to be selected as the preferred equipment and maintenance provider for the Foxleigh project, and we are looking forward to delivering for a new client in Queensland. This selection highlights our expertise in sourcing and maintaining large scale mining equipment and our ability to offer a range of service models to our clients.”

Foxleigh is jointly owned by QMetco, POSCO Australia and Nippon Steel Australia.