Tag Archives: Komatsu

Komatsu teams with Rio, BHP, Codelco and Boliden on zero-emission mining solutions

Working together to rapidly innovate in support of carbon reduction targets, Komatsu has teamed up with several of its customers to form the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance.

The founding members of the alliance are Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco and Boliden.

Through the alliance framework, Komatsu’s GHG partners will work directly with Komatsu to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure, the OEM said. The alliance’s initial target is advancing Komatsu’s power-agnostic truck concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources including diesel-electric, electric, trolley (wired), battery power and even hydrogen fuel cells.

“We are honoured that our customers, several of the largest mining companies in the world, have agreed to participate in the Komatsu GHG Alliance and work in partnership with us to develop sustainable solutions for mining,” Masayuki Moriyama, President of Komatsu’s Mining Business Division, said. “We look forward to close collaboration with these industry leaders to accelerate development and deployment of the next level of equipment designed to reduce greenhouse gases from mining operations and ultimately achieve the goal of zero-emission mining.”

The formation of the alliance brings together mining leaders willing to share time, resources and information to deliver zero-emissions equipment solutions, Komatsu said. The company intends to expand the alliance to additional mining companies to enhance industry-wide collaboration on solutions to decarbonisation.

In a separate release, Rio Tinto said it will conduct a pre-production trial of the new equipment at a site and has the option to purchase some of the first trucks from Komatsu once they are commercially viable.

Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Rio Tinto and Komatsu have a shared history of partnership on innovation going back to when we built the world’s largest Komatsu autonomous haulage fleet in 2008.

“Our support of a trial, and the option to buy some of the first trucks from Komatsu, underscores our shared commitment to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure as we look to decarbonise our business.”

As a company, Komatsu, meanwhile, says it is committed to minimising environmental impact through its business, targeting a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from use of its products and production of its equipment by 2030 (compared with 2010 levels) and a challenge target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Komatsu has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for customers through product development for decades in many areas including electric diesel dump trucks, electric power shovels, regenerative energy storage capabilities and fuel saver programs, it said.

The company’s initial concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources, part of the power-agnostic development, is set to make its official debut at MINExpo 2021 on September 13-15 in Las Vegas, USA.

Komatsu aims to improve operator efficiency with WA900-8R wheel loader

Komatsu has released an upgraded version of its 11-13 cu.m class mining loader, the WA900-8R, incorporating, it says, innovative technology features that deliver increased productivity and ease of operation, while reducing operating costs.

This new loader incorporates Komatsu’s “SmartLoader Logic” technology to provide the engine with precisely the right amount of torque for each part of the duty cycle.

According to Mark Summerville, Komatsu’s National Product Manager, this feature improves fuel economy by up to 10% compared with the previous model, while also increasing productivity.

Further productivity improvements include the addition of a modulation clutch for controlling speed and torque, along with faster boom raise speeds to increase cycle times and a tyre slip control system.

“These features, combined with automatic dig and a semi-automatic approach and dump system, means the WA900-8R can significantly improve an average operator’s efficiency,” Summerville said.

The new loader also includes a KomVision obstacle detection system that uses radar and 360° cameras to alert and prompt the operator to react if a person, vehicle or obstacle is detected – greatly improving the safety of personnel in and around the machine.

Replacing the WA900-3E0, the WA900-8R is powered by a Komatsu SAA12V140E-7 engine rated at 671 kW, and has an operating weight of 116.4 t. It is matched for loading 90 t dump trucks (Komatsu HD785 size) in standard configuration, and up to 140 t trucks (Komatsu HD1500) in high-lift spec.

SmartLoader Logic optimises engine torque across all applications to minimise fuel consumption, while always ensuring the loader has the torque and digging power it needs, according to the company.

“This system functions automatically and doesn’t interfere with operation, saving fuel without decreasing production,” Summerville said.

The system is matched to the loader’s automatic transmission, with an electronically controlled modulation (ECM) valve that automatically selects the correct gear speed based on travel speed, engine speed and other travel conditions.

“This ECM valve system also engages the clutch smoothly to prevent lags and shocks when shifting, for more efficient machine operation and a more comfortable ride,” Summerville added.

The WA900-8R’s powertrain has a large capacity torque converter designed to ensure optimum efficiency.

“This ensures greater productivity in ‘V-shape’ loading applications because the torque converter’s increased tractive effort means it doesn’t require full throttle,” Summerville said. “It also allows the loader to achieve higher gear ranges and maintain higher travel speeds when working in load-and-carry applications.”

The loader’s hydraulics are designed around Komatsu’s closed-centre load sensing system (CLSS) technology.

“This uses a variable displacement piston pump combined with CLSS to deliver hydraulic flow exactly when the task requires it, preventing wasted hydraulic flow, which further contributes to better fuel economy,” Summerville said.

A tyre slip control system, proven to be effective in extending tyre service life, Komatsu says, sees the modulated clutch applied to control the torque converter when it senses a potential tyre slip.

“All these features combine to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10% – while also increasing productivity – compared with the WA900-3E0,” Summerville said.

The new WA900-8R features Komatsu’s latest generation of cab to improve operator comfort and safety. This cab features low-effort control levers and an advanced joystick steering system, alongside an electronically controlled suspension system, according to the company.

Other features include the addition of a trainer seat, shockless stop cylinders, climate control air conditioning and modulated clutch.

These features, combined with ergonomic improvements, all contribute to higher operator productivity, easier and safer operation and reduced fatigue, Komatsu said.

Summerville said: “Our new automatic digging system actuates the bucket tilt and lifting operations by detecting the sensing pressure applied to the work equipment. It is designed to significantly reduce operator fatigue and improve efficiency ensuring optimum bucket fill every time the machine enters the pile, whether in rock or in loose materials.”

This system is designed to work in conjunction with the new semi-auto approach and dump system.

“This automates boom lift and bucket dumping when approaching a dump truck, particularly in ‘V-shape’ loading operations,” he said. “Combining this with our automatic digging system, loading operations from stockpile to dump truck is made much easier, and operator effort and fatigue greatly reduced.”

Maintenance and serviceability have been optimised through a high-resolution in-cab monitoring system, which works in conjunction with Komatsu’s KOMTRAX Plus remote monitoring system, the company said.

Side-opening engine doors, an easily accessible engine compartment with dual-side engine bay access ladders, along with a swing-out cooling fan – with reverse – and wide-core radiator (with modular core) all aid maintenance and servicing processes.

An adjustment-free braking system, along with service brakes mounted in-board from the final drives and brake on the sun gear (high speed, lower torque), ensure increased brake life, the company added.

Improved loader linkage and upgraded structures for the front and rear frame, meanwhile, provide a longer structure life.

“With our new WA900-8R loader, Komatsu has developed a best-in-class mining loader, while delivering significantly higher productivity and operating efficiency, combined with lower fuel consumption and reduced operating costs,” Summerville said.

Komatsu shifts longwall mining emphasis with powered roof support solutions change

Komatsu says it is adapting its longwall mining equipment business to best meet customer needs to reduce costs and maximise performance by announcing a plan to provide Joy engineered Powered Roof Support (PRS) solutions through partnerships with PRS manufacturers.

The company says it remains fully committed to supporting and serving the global longwall market by providing Joy engineered PRS solutions; designing bespoke roof supports; continuing to design and manufacture its Joy armoured face conveyors, shearers and longwall controls (including PRS controls); and providing project management, quality and integration services for longwall systems.

It also stressed there were no expected disruptions to existing order fulfilment as part of these changes.

“The company will continue to service and support all Joy longwall products including PRS through its global service network and will fully support existing customers for the lifetime of their operations,” it said.

Jason Savage, Senior Vice President Joy underground soft rock for Komatsu Mining Corp, explained: “As customers look to cut costs in the evolving coal market, we want to help provide flexibility while continuing to offer the core competencies we are known for in this space: Joy custom-engineered PRS solutions.

“We will continue to provide, and further develop, the design and technical support of engineered PRS solutions to help our customers mine efficiently and safely while enabling access to lower cost manufacturing sources to reduce up-front investment.”

There may be changes to the company’s manufacturing footprint following this shift, impacting Komatsu’s Manchester and Worcester facilities in the United Kingdom, but no immediate changes have been announced, with no further details available at this time, it said.

Savage concluded: “We are focused on working with our employees and our customers to make this transition as smooth as possible and empower the global mining market with the highest levels of longwall automation, remote operation, safety and productivity.”

Komatsu HD1500-8 haul trucks reach new heights for MinRes’ Iron Valley mine

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.”

Komatsu to start hydrogen development program for mining haul trucks

Mining equipment major Komatsu has made plans to leverage hydrogen power across its fleet of haul trucks, according to a report from The Nikkei.

The financial newspaper reported that the company will start its hydrogen development program in 2021, with plans to have the trucks ready for practical use by 2030.

One of Komatsu’s 291-t payload 930E haul trucks is already being setup for hydrogen power use at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena PGM mine in South Africa.

This vehicle, which is a conversion to hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery operation, is set for first motion in the second half of the year, the mining company reaffirmed in its 2020 financial results today.

Komatsu has set a target of halving CO2 emissions from its construction and mining equipment by its 2030 financial year, compared with its 2010 financial year levels.

Komatsu commissions Australia’s first Tier 4 Final ultra-class haul truck

In an Australia first, Komatsu has commissioned the inaugural Tier 4 Final version of its 930E-5 ultra-class mining truck in Australia.

The commissioning is part of the company’s commitment to designing and manufacturing mining equipment that, it says, advances its corporate social responsibility aims while embracing UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This latest factory-designed emission control technology solution, which meets the most stringent North America and EU emissions regulations, has been adopted by Komatsu Australia to meet a client’s specific operational needs, the company said.

“Komatsu has a strong commitment to environmental best practice, with a continuous focus on reducing our environmental impacts and our carbon footprint,” Jason Arthur, Komatsu’s National Product Manager – Mining, said.

“Our ongoing research and development efforts include developing new products that significantly reduce fuel consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions.”

Komatsu’s Tier 4 Final compliant, 290-t payload 930E-5 incorporates on-board after-treatment system that significantly reduces the Scope 1 emissions produced during the haulage process at mines, the company says.

These emissions are an unavoidable by-product of the high temperature combustion process in the diesel engines that power most mining equipment, Arthur explained.

“This emission reduction technology is an option that now can be incorporated into Komatsu’s class leading 930E-5 model,” he said. “To achieve this, Komatsu worked with our large horsepower engine partner Cummins to provide a simple, low maintenance solution to meet Tier 4 Final emissions requirements.”

The Cummins-sourced engine treats particulate matter in the engine cylinders through an advanced high-pressure fuel injection control system to reduce PM 2.5 by 80% (compared with Tier 2 engine levels). In turn, the nitrogen oxide greenhouse gas emissions are treated out of cylinder through a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) after-treatment process.

This modular SCR system consists of an airless diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) dosing system and features an integrated decomposition chamber with a maintenance strategy that aligns with the life of the engine. The SCR units are contained within the truck’s rear-exiting exhaust system.

Komatsu’s use of the flow-through exhaust aftertreatment system delivers ultra-low emissions while increasing fuel efficiency without increasing backpressure, according to the company.

Critical engine parameters are monitored by the integrated engine management system to ensure optimised DEF consumption, Arthur said.

Tier 4 emission technology is a small portion of Komatsu’s overall emission reduction strategy, with the company continuing to actively invest in research and development projects that focus on reducing customers’ Scope 1 emissions and using alternate energy sources, the company said.

In addition to meeting the technology challenges in developing a Tier 4 Final compliant version of the 930E-5, the customer also requested Komatsu provide a truck with significantly lower noise emission levels.

“Our US-based Komatsu Engineering team became intimately involved and created a factory-engineered sound suppression solution that would meet our customer’s requirements,” Arthur said. “These factory-designed sound treatments more than halved the standard truck’s emitted sound power levels, resulting in a target sound power level of less than 113 dBA.

“Successfully achieving these sound levels was a very challenging undertaking for a large mining truck powered by an engine with an output of 2,700 hp (2,014 kW).”

More OEMs join the ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative

The Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – has made significant progress towards understanding what is needed to transform today’s fleet of mining vehicles into tomorrow’s new generation of cleaner, safer vehicles, members of its CEO Advisory Group announced today at IMARC Online.

The ambitions of the ICSV initiative are to introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040, minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025 and make vehicle collision avoidance technology available to mining companies by 2025.

Two years on from announcing these ambitions, eight new OEMs have joined the initiative, taking the number of participating OEMs to 19, the ICMM said. This includes 3MTech, Behault, Future Digital communications, MTU, Miller Technologies, Miller Technologies, Nerospec, Newtrax and Torsa, the ICMM confirmed to IM.

ICMM members, representing around 30% of the global metals market with over 650 assets, have undertaken assessments to establish a clearer view of the progress made at site level towards each ICSV ambition. These assessments indicate ICMM members are generally at early stages of maturity in the journey, and show what progress will look like for each ambition, the ICMM said.

“This significant representation of industry can speak with an aligned voice, on aligned objectives with OEMs and third-party technology providers,” it added. “In its first two years, the ICSV initiative has achieved the critical step of sending strong signals to OEMs and third-party technology providers on their requirements, and on what is needed to accelerate development and adoption of technology across the industry.”

The initiative is led by a CEO Advisory Group comprising each leader of BHP, Anglo American, Gold Fields, Caterpillar, Komatsu and Sandvik, several members of which spoke today at IMARC Online about the collaborative model.

Nick Holland, Chief Executive, Gold Fields (and Chair of the CEO Advisory Group), said there was a critical need to advance work on cleaner, safer vehicles in mining, which will have important health and safety benefits and contribute towards the pressing need of decarbonising the mining industry.

“It is recognised that there are measures we can implement now, but other, more impactful, interventions are reliant on technology pathways that are still evolving,” he said. “This will undoubtedly take time, but the industry’s collaboration with OEMs, through the ICMM, is critical as we look for these long-term, sustainable and integrated solutions.”

Mike Henry, Chief Executive, BHP, added: “Safer, cleaner mining equipment is important for our people and the world. No one party can tackle this on their own though. The ICSV initiative brings together equipment manufacturers and ICMM members to accelerate the innovations required to improve equipment safety and reduce emissions. This is a great example of the collaborative industry-level effort that can help bring about the scale and pace of change that is needed.”

Denise Johnson, Group President, Caterpillar, said the OEM was committed to helping customers operate safely and sustainably, with the ICSV initiative helping it collaborate even more closely with the mining industry in these important areas.

“Its progress to date has helped to form a shared understanding of where the industry is on its journey and demonstrates that by working together we can more quickly accelerate the pace of change,” she said of the initiative.

Tom Butler, CEO, ICMM, added: “Partnership and collaboration fuels long-term sustainable development, and is crucial to addressing some of the mining industry’s biggest sustainability challenges. Progress made on the ICSV initiative has been building the widespread confidence needed to accelerate the level of innovation investment required to scale up commercial solutions. The initiative will benefit the entire industry and is open to all OEMs who would like to join.”

ICMM has developed tools to support the industry, OEMs and third-party technology providers to meet the initiative’s ambitions, it said. These tools include an ICSV Knowledge Hub that, the ICMM says, facilitates knowledge sharing of industry innovations, provides technical and practical resources including case studies, standards, regulations and a technology and solutions database.

Additionally, a set of “maturity frameworks” that help to “map, motivate and measure” progress against the ambitions have been published, with the intention to stimulate conversations within companies that drive thinking, decision making and action, it added.

In 2021, ICMM’s company members will focus on integrating the initiative’s goals into their corporate planning processes, allocating internal resources and effectively leveraging external resources such as synergies with other industry initiatives and collaboration between member companies, the ICMM said.

Vale teams with Komatsu and CMIC on ‘revolutionary’ hard-rock cutting project

Vale, in 2021, is due to embark on a major hard-rock cutting project at its Garson mine, in Sudbury, Canada.

Part of the mechanical cutting demonstration within the CMIC (Canada Mining Innovation Council) Continuous Underground Mining project, it will see the company test out a Komatsu hard-rock cutting machine equipped with Komatsu DynaCut Technology at the mine.

With an aim to access the McConnell orebody, as well as provide a primary case study for CMIC members to learn from, all eyes will be on this Sudbury mine in the June quarter of 2021.

Vale plans to demonstrate the ability to cut rock in excess of 250 MPa; cut at a commercial rate of more than 3.5 m/shift; quantify the cost per metre of operation and start to look at the potential comparison with conventional drill and blast development; assess the health, safety and environmental suitability of the mechanical rock excavation (MRE) process; and gain insight into the potential of an optimised MRE process.

Another Komatsu unit has already been assembled and (by now) is most likely operating at the Cadia underground mine in New South Wales, Australia, operated by Newcrest Mining. Vale will be watching developments here, where a three-month “pre-trial” cutting hard rock will take place.

Vale has laid out a testing plan for its own machine, with the unit set to cut around 400 m for the trial period.

IM had to find out more about this.

Fortunately Vale’s Luke Mahony, Head of Geology, Mine Engineering, Geotechnical and Technology & Innovation for the Global Base Metals Business; and Andy Charsley, Project Lead and Principal Mining Engineer, Technology & Innovation, were happy to talk.

IM: Why do you think industry collaboration is key in the underground hard-rock cutting space, in particular? Why has it been harder to develop and apply this technology in mining compared with other solutions such as automation, electrification and digitalisation?

LM: There are many various OEMs entering the market with hard-rock cutting equipment. All of them approach the problem a little bit differently, so it is difficult for one company to trial all of the options. At the same time, we are trying to leverage these new technologies and processes across the industry for a mechanical cutting type of future. For me, this is essential if we are to get the safety, cost and productivity benefits we need to make some of these new underground mines viable.

Comparing it to automation and electrification shows it is a ‘revolutionary’ concept as opposed to an ‘evolutionary’ one. Automation and electrification are more evolutionary concepts – automating an existing scoop or truck or electrifying it – whereas hard-rock cutting is more revolutionary and transformational in the sector, so industry collaboration is even more important.

IM: Since the project was presented at CMIC’s ReThinkMining Webinar, in June, have you had a lot more partnership interest in the project?

LM: We have seen a few other industry members ask questions and connect regarding this project. Some mining companies, while interested, are a little unsure of how they can get on-board with a project like this. What we have done is to utilise the CMIC consortium to make it the foundation of this collaboration, ensuring it is as easy and efficient as possible to join. Also, we want to cover the key concerns that mining companies have when it comes to collaboration, which CMIC is well aware of and can address.

CMIC is well connected with underground professionals and like-minded companies, and is able to pull in interest and facilitate the collaboration framework.

IM: What has happened to the MRE project timeline since June? Are you still on for receiving the machine in early 2021 to start testing later in the year?

AC: The machine has been assembled and we will mobilise it to Canada in early 2021. All of the underground cutting, in Canada, is scheduled to start in April 2021.

Komatsu have assembled two units – the first unit has come off the assembly line and is about to start trials at Cadia any day now. The second machine has just completed final assembly and will undergo Factory Acceptance Testing in the next few months, while we monitor the initial performance of the first machine. The second machine will come to Canada early next year and, if there are any modifications required, we can carry them out, prior to it going underground.

IM: How has the machine changed from the prototype that was initially deployed at Cadia and shown at MINExpo 2016?

AC: In 2016 and 2018, Komatsu implemented a proof of concept and, after that proof of concept, there was interest from miners to build a full commercial unit – which has happened now.

The prototype was ultimately to test the enabling cutting technology, whereby this element was retrofitted to a medium-sized roadheader for manoeuvrability. What Komatsu has done now is fully embed it into a system more like a continuous miner, which has the cutting arm, ground handling shovel & collector and the rest of the body to put it into a full production, continuous operation. It is now going to be part of the production process, as opposed to just testing the cutting aspect.

IM: Considering the end goal of this project is to evaluate the type and number of applications for which hard-rock cutting is suitable across industry (not just at Garson and the McConnell orebody), why did you select the Komatsu HRCM?

LM: It’s really about the Komatsu DynaCut Technology, which, for us, is an extremely low energy process for cutting the hard rock compared with, say, a TBM.

At the same time, what attracts us is the ability to integrate it with existing infrastructure within our current process at the mine – bolters, trucks, LHDs, etc. It is not about fully redesigning the mine to implement this technology.

This trial is that first step to really prove and understand the Komatsu DynaCut Technology in terms of dealing with cutting our relative hard rock in Sudbury. In that regard, the Komatsu technology provided the best technical opportunities for the conditions at hand.

IM: When the machine gets going in Australia, what hardness of rock will it be cutting in the hard-rock stage? How does this compare with Garson?

LM: Cadia is a rock ranging around 200 MPa, whereas in Sudbury we would be looking around 250 MPa. That’s when you talk about Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS) of the rock.

When you start looking at this undercutting technology, there are a few other aspects you need to consider. This includes rock toughness – the ability to resist a crack when a tensile force is applied, sort of like a jackhammer – and brittleness – how much energy that rock can absorb before it breaks.

Ultimately, we are working with Komatsu to understand how we should adapt an undercutting technology for our mines, and what the key parameters to consider are. At this stage, UCS seems to be the benchmark in the industry, but I think there will be a lot more considerations to come out of this project.

IM: What are the reasons for applying the technology at Garson? Were other areas in Sudbury considered?

AC: The priority for us was to have a shallow, low stress ground environment to start off with. At the same time, these are significant machines that would have to be disassembled if you were going down a shaft, which would be complicated. We have ramp access at Garson which makes things easier.

The other point is that Garson is an operating mine so we have got the facilities that can support the project; everything from removing the rock to ground support, service installation and surface infrastructure.

IM: How widespread do you think hard-rock cutting could be across the underground industry? Could it eventually become a mainstream method to compete with drill and blast?

LM: This is the ultimate question. I would like to say yes, it will become mainstream. It is our intention to really develop and prove that it can not only compete with drill and blast, but ultimately improve on it. This will see, in the future, an application for both mechanised hard-rock cutting and drill and blast.

You are going to need to look at fundamental KPIs such as safety, productivity and the cost associated with that productivity.

The focus now is to mature the cutting technology and start to develop the production or the process that goes with underground development beyond just cutting rock.

When developing around sensitive areas where you require low disturbance, hard-rock cutting will be important, as it will be in highly seismic ground. Then, if the unit cost of operating these machines gets low enough, you can start to assess orebodies that were previously not viable. At the same time, it is an electrified process so enables the industry to accelerate some of the decarbonisation plans for underground mining.

IM: Anything else to add on the subject?

LM: I think it’s fair to say, there will be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to hard-rock cutting. Different OEMs are going to develop and mature solutions and there will be applications for each of them, but we have got a long way to go to really understand that as an industry.

The ultimate goal is to get that industry collaboration between OEMs and industry going to ensure solutions are developed that show a way forward for the sector.

This Q&A will feature in the annual continuous cutting and rapid development focus, soon to be published in the IM November-December 2020 issue. Photo courtesy of Komatsu Mining

Komatsu to boost Australia East Coast supply chain with new Wacol distribution centre

A major new distribution centre that, Komatsu says, will significantly increase customer satisfaction by improving parts and components availability, further reduce order turnaround times and streamline ordering efficiency, will be opened by the OEM in the June quarter of 2021.

Komatsu’s new Wacol distribution centre – which will also include elements of its Brisbane parts and components Reman operation – will consolidate four existing distribution and storage centres into a single facility.

Construction of the new Wacol centre, which is currently underway, is scheduled to be completed by May 2021, in time for Komatsu’s global centenary celebrations.

According to Russell Hodson, Komatsu’s General Manager, Supply Chain, the key driver of the new facility is to improve customer satisfaction across its Queensland, New Zealand and New Caledonia operations.

“Customers in these regions – which includes large mining customers – are currently serviced from our various Brisbane facilities, and by consolidating them into a single operation, we anticipate a marked improvement in customer satisfaction,” he said.

“The new facility will also be much safer for Komatsu employees and service providers, making use of the latest warehousing technology and systems, including anti-collision systems and full worker/machine separation throughout.

“In addition, we’ll see improvements in quality by bringing storage of all parts and components under cover, while a one-part/one-location approach will eliminate the chances of binning and picking errors – further contributing to improved customer satisfaction.”

Komatsu will also see some significant efficiency and cost benefits through consolidation to a single facility, maximised space utilisation, and lower transport costs, it said.

“We’re also going to in-source our warehousing operations so all staff will be Komatsu employees, which will better enable us to continue our ongoing program of continuous improvement,” Hodson said.

“At this new facility, we’ll employing 50 new people into Komatsu; we see this as a great opportunity to build a fantastic team that can deliver extraordinary results for our customers in a new and exciting facility.”

The development of this new facility was part of Komatsu’s broader East Coast supply chain strategy, according to Hodson.

“This strategy aims to improve the flow of our goods and information to our customers,” he said. “And there’s much more to come as we strive to continuously improve our operations for the benefit of our customers.”

Being constructed on a 3.8 ha site adjacent to its existing Queensland head office, service, training and customer support facility, the new centre covers nearly 17,000 sq.m, with an order picking storage area of just under 14,500 sq.m, and an extra large parts/components storage area of over 2,000 sq.m, it said.

“When it opens, our new Wacol DC will also fully integrate our mining and construction operations for Queensland, NZ and New Caledonia,” Hodson said.

Komatsu to reveal new driller, bolters, LHDs at livestream event

Komatsu is readying the unveiling of an all-new underground drilling and bolting product platform with a “bold, industry-disrupting design” that will debut at its first ever virtual livestream event.

On October 26, event attendees will be among the first to experience this new platform, designed after years of working in collaboration with customers to understand the challenges faced by mining operations, the company said.

The first four of 14 planned new drilling and bolting models using the platform will be featured during the event. Two LHDs, one brand new and one enhanced and improved over the current model, will also be unveiled.

In addition to showcasing the new machines, the “Explore beyond the surface: Innovations for hard rock mining” event will offer participants the chance to hear from and ask questions of product experts, Komatsu said. “We’ll share the design considerations that went into each of our new products and the benefits and opportunities that can be expected with their use,” the company added.

Josh Wagner, Vice President Hard Rock at Komatsu, said: “We’re thrilled to finally be able to reveal these new products, which were developed based on the insights we’ve gained by working side-by-side with our customers in the mining industry.

“Our new drilling and bolting platform and LHD machines are the latest examples of our commitment to delivering sustainable, innovative solutions that support our customers’ mining operations.”