Tag Archives: MineStar

Cat improves efficiency and cost per tonne with 7495 mining shovel upgrades

Caterpillar has updated its 7495 and 7495 HF electric rope shovels with the result being an up to 10% increase in operating efficiency.

Drawing from more than a century of rope shovel innovation, the 2021 Cat® 7495 and 7495 HF Electric Rope Shovels (ERS) combine multiple standard feature upgrades to improve machine productivity, while component enhancements, increased frame durability and improved serviceability help reduce cost per tonne of material moved by as much as 15%.

Dan Wyatt, ERS Product Value Stream Manager, said: “Consistently, our customers tell us machine availability and productivity are primary contributors to their operation’s success. From the full adaptive control system for HydraCrowd™ to more innovative technology and data security, the advances made to the 2021 electric rope shovels reflect our commitment to meeting their needs.

“Many of these improvements are compatible with shovels in the field, so customers can realise these gains through upgrades to their existing fleets as well as new machine purchases.”

A new propel gear case for the 7495 and 7495 HF models nearly doubles the life of propel gear cases in some extreme operating conditions, Cat claims. Precise adjustments to gearing geometry and advancements in tooth hardening enhance gear case durability and productivity. The result is lower total cost of ownership of as much as $8/h when the drive system is replaced at one scheduled time.

Additionally, an ecology drain simplifies oil draining and enables kidney-loop flushing, which reduces abrasion-causing contaminants and oil change frequency.

Updates to the 7495 AC electric drive system deliver greater reliability, improved maintenance access, enhanced safety, and expanded high altitude and temperature capabilities, the company says. A liquid-cooled motion regulator cabinet efficiently dissipates heat generated by electrical components and enables operation at -40°C to +50°C and altitudes as high as 5,250 m without derating.

A faster propel transfer switch cuts lag time by 75% to improve productivity, while common motors in multiple applications means fewer parts to stock, improved parts availability and simplified maintenance, Cat says.

A reconfiguration of the crawler carriage allows drive shaft and tumbler replacement from the outboard side without removing the propel transmission. This slashes maintenance time by days while enhancing safety, Cat says. With this design, thrust loads are evenly distributed on large, tapered roller bearings rather than bronze thrust plates, increasing durability to align with 25,000-hour planned rebuilds, even in harsh environments.

Stress from every load passes through the shovel’s swing rack. This is where an enhanced design includes a single-piece rail casting that eliminates vertical segment cracks to increase durability. The rail provides a uniform path for roller movement, preventing rollers from coming loose and creating irregular wear patterns. The upgraded third rail improves access for inspection and retightening, in addition to providing added support to the thrust rail during operation. New swing girder bushings and girder-to-chassis shim designs offer improved access, reducing service time.

“All major rope shovel structures are built with high-strength steel and rugged castings, joined and thermally stress relieved to deliver reliable operation in harsh mining conditions,” Cat says. “Full penetration, profiled and ground welds are made at critical junctures, and MT, UT and X-ray inspections ensure weld quality. Structures are stress-relieved to prevent cracking, and white painted interiors facilitate inspection.”

Both the 7495 and 7495 HF ERS models now offer a full Cat bill of materials, streamlining the parts ordering process and improving parts availability, the company says.

Technology increases efficiency

Both the 7495 and 7495 HF come standard with Product Link Elite™, which transmits critical machine operating data such as utilisation, location and condition via cellular or site internet connection. Added router functionality helps to protect data security. Advanced productivity tools within Product Link Elite enable a cycle segmentation algorithm, and the combined data allows for advanced analysis of productivity, Cat says.

When linked with the available Cat MineStar™ Fleet, real-time machine tracking produces a comprehensive overview of all equipment assets to assist with fleet management and productivity.

Providing real-time feedback to improve loading efficiency, available MineStar Terrain uses guidance technology and an in-cab display to deliver precise dipper position guidance. Optional MineStar Health delivers critical event-based machine condition and operating data, while its advanced diagnostic and analytic tools improve service efficiency, the company says.

The standard Operator Assist – Enhanced Motion Control simplifies machine operation to promote high production while protecting the machine. This system is designed to yield more reliable crowd rope replacement schedules, full design life for hoist ropes, reduced wear on crowd brakes and longer life for hoist gear case components, according to Cat

HydraCrowd

A new adaptive control system (ACS) – a final piece of a multiphase enhancement initiative for HydraCrowd – delivers up to 25% cost savings on the ACS valve, resulting in up to 5% total cost of ownership saving for the entire system, Cat says. Lower initial costs, rebuildable elements and improved accessibility combine to reduce the time required for replacements. The new design also increases reliability without significantly changing the HydraCrowd maintenance schedule, according to Cat.

The new circulation filter employs two smaller, easily accessed filters that do not require roof panel removal for replacement. More affordable than the previous single-filter design, the new configuration also reduces replacement time, Cat says.

A new filter placed at the pump drive transmission improves filtration of the lubrication fluid, helping to extend the life and reliability of the system by reducing contaminants and decreasing wear. The new pump drive transmission filter assists in reducing unplanned maintenance events to decrease downtime.

Caterpillar and the next generation of productive hauling

Caterpillar says it is leading the way in the next generation of productive hauling through game-changing efficiency advancements with the Next Generation of Cat® Mining Trucks.

The 785 large mining truck was Caterpillar’s first entry into the mining industry more than three decades ago and, the company says, has been a top performer on sites around the world ever since. It is fitting, therefore, that it is the first of a new generation.

Designed by operators, for operators

“Where does the next generation of productive haulage begin? It all starts with operators, who work in an environment designed for them by other operators,” Cat says.

Truck operators provided input, worked alongside Cat’s large mining truck design team and shared feedback to help create a state-of-the-art environment on board the 785 designed for efficiency and ergonomics, and equipped with features that increase comfort, automate functions and boost confidence, from the smallest operator to largest operator around the globe, the company said.

The next generation operator experience is safer, more consistent, more predictable and more intuitive, shortening the learning curve and boosting productivity of less experienced operators, according to the company.

The new speed coaching feature gives operators real-time feedback on how to operate the truck to maximise its productivity, Cat told IM. In field trials, the new AutoHoist controls, meanwhile, have shown reductions of up to 12 seconds in the dumping cycle. “This feature can also reduce fuel burn during this portion of the haul cycle,” the company said.

Features such as Hill Start Assist, Anti Roll Back, Enhanced Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Machine Speed Limiting and Cruise Control improve machine responsiveness and controllability, while improving cycle times and reducing operator fatigue, the company added.

Serviceability and reliability

In addition to enhancing the operator experience and efficiency, the next generation truck platform delivers significant improvements in serviceability and reliability, according to Cat.

“We’ve worked to reduce key contributors to downtime with features like the new modular HVAC (heating, ventilation and air condition) system, which improves reliability and consolidates components so the entire system can be removed and replaced quickly,” Cat said.

Field studies have shown this modular element alone can improve physical availability by up to 0.5%.

New “Remote Flash” and Remote Troubleshooting capabilities reduce downtime and maximise machine availability, according to Cat, providing the ability to troubleshoot the machine remotely or update the software of an electronic control module on an engine or machine through cellular service.

“A manager in the back office can securely push machine software updates over the air to the truck,” Cat explained. “This feature reduces machine downtime and technician time, allows updates to be performed when most convenient, and keeps the machine up to date with the most recent software.”

Connectivity and technology integration

Mine sites have access to real-time information and analytics that improve their total cost of ownership, the company claims, with these next gen pre-production machines “quantifying the full value of new features” at multiple customer sites right now ahead of the start of manufacturing in the March quarter of 2021, Cat says.

Cat says it will be easier to integrate Caterpillar and certain third-party current and future technology solutions on the next generation platform, with offerings such as Cat MineStar™ – which includes fully autonomous haulage with Command – able to deliver a step change in productivity, efficiency and safety.

This integration can provide valuable data and analytics to enable near real-time decision making, maintenance troubleshooting, and the ability to predict and proactively prevent failures, according to the company.

Included on the truck is an improved payload monitoring system that comes with more accurate measurements, improved monitoring and an improved interface, according to Cat.

“Information is more accurate and the system provides access to more data,” the company said of this system. “The new system also provides accurate dipper counts, reduces false loading triggers and overload detection, while carryback calculations are more accurate.”

The system also provides detailed haul cycle segmentation and remote access through telematics, Cat added.

The backbone of advanced connectivity on the Next Gen truck platform is the ability to communicate through dual mode cellular 4G/LTE and Satellite, or local Wi-Fi networks – “whatever benefits the mine plan”, Cat says.

“Next generation connectivity delivers faster data transfers, better access to data, consistent and reliable data communication, more insightful and actionable data, improved data analytics and new diagnostic capabilities,” the company explained.

“The NextGen telematics systems can collect and transmit information securely into locally-hosted or cloud-hosted applications, such as Cat MineStar Fleet, MineStar Edge, and Health Equipment Insights. These applications boost productivity and improve maintenance and machine life.”

Built on a solid foundation

With nominal rated payload of 138 t or higher with optional larger tyres, the 785 has delivered lowest cost per tonne in a wide range of mining applications ranging from flat hauls to deep pits, and solid roadways to challenging underfoot conditions, the company said.

Its 3512E engine offers selectable power options so miners can either match the speed of their current fleet or speed up their cycle times, according to the company. The optional Tier 4 engine has shown a reduction in fuel usage by as much as 9%, while advanced electronic transmission controls deliver faster cycle times, faster acceleration, less spillage and reduced haul road maintenance, on top of improved engine and powertrain life. Longer-life components, extended service intervals and easier maintenance contribute to higher mechanical availability.

“The individual features, components, software and systems that make up the Next Generation 785 have one very important thing in common: they are all manufactured by Caterpillar and supported by the Cat dealer network.

“This integration ensures that the entire truck, from tyres to transmissions, engines to electronics, can be fully optimised to deliver the lowest cost per tonne in any manned or autonomous site applications in the world.”

Fortescue celebrates 100th autonomous haul truck conversion at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group has celebrated an important milestone in the rollout of autonomous haulage technology at its Chichester Hub operations, in the Pilbara of Western Australia, with the conversion of its 100th autonomous truck.

The full conversion of 108 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub, which comprises the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, is expected to be completed in September 2020, it said.

Since the introduction of Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology at Fortescue in 2012, 168 trucks have been converted across the company’s Solomon and Chichester Hubs. This has seen Fortescue’s autonomous haul fleet move around 1,400 Mt of material and achieve a greater than 30% increase in productivity levels (compared with previous manned fleets), it said.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue’s AHS deployment represents the largest fleet conversion to autonomous haulage in the industry.

“Our history of embracing leading-edge technology has ensured Fortescue remains at the lowest end of the global cost curve and remains fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across our business to ensure we continue to deliver enhanced returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the Automated Mining Projects team has also achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program with zero harm to any team members.”

Workforce skills development has been a key aspect of Fortescue’s automation project, it said, with the company’s training and redeployment program successfully transferring or upskilling team members to new roles across the business.

“Training is at the heart of everything we do at Fortescue and as we continue the integration of autonomous trucks across our sites, this ethos has guided our efforts to ensure no redundancies due to automation and to deliver significant benefits to employees from the opportunities offered by this project,” Gaines said.

Fortescue was the first company in the world to deploy Cat autonomous haulage on a commercial scale at the Solomon Hub. It was also the first in the world to retrofit Command for Hauling (part of Caterpillar’s MineStar technology) on a Cat 789D and Komatsu 930E haul truck.

The iron ore miner’s fleet of 168 autonomous trucks have now travelled in excess of 47 Mkm since AHS was first introduced – the equivalent of 65 return trips to the moon.

And, as part of the Chichester Hub automation project, 549,500 parts have been fitted to date across 100 trucks.

Cat revamps 6060 hydraulic mining shovel

Caterpillar has launched its next generation 6060 hydraulic mining shovel, which, it says, features multiple design enhancements and new components that advance machine performance, durability, serviceability, and operator comfort.

The new 6060, which replaces the 6060B in the hydraulic mining shovel lineup, features updated engines, optimised hydraulics, heavy-duty structures and undercarriage, Cat electronics and a state-of-the-art cab, according to the company. It is also fully integrated into Caterpillar product support systems for efficient Cat dealer services.

One of these new-generation shovels is set to operate at Anglo American’s in-development Quellaveco mine, in Peru, as part of a fleet that includes autonomous 794 AC trucks.

The 600-t class mining shovel has a bucket payload of about 61 t/pass in both face shovel and backhoe configurations. This makes it an efficient four-pass match with the 231-t payload Cat 793 mining truck and five-pass match with the 291-t payload Cat 794 AC mining truck.

Twin Cat 3512E engines are optimised for high performance, fuel efficient operation and increased durability, according to the company.

For North America, the engines are equipped with a maintenance-free diesel oxidation catalyst emissions control system, do not use diesel exhaust fluid and comply with US EPA Tier 4 Final regulations, Cat says. The updated engine design boosts reliability and extends time between overhauls by 10%.

The combination of this updated engine and optimised hydraulics enables 10-15% percent better fuel efficiency compared with the previous face shovel model, with 3-5% greater efficiency for the backhoe configuration, Cat says. For reduced maintenance, engine oil and filter change intervals are doubled to 1,000 hours.

Structural, undercarriage and slew ring upgrades help maximise uptime and productivity and lower cost per tonne, according to Cat. To boost longevity, the Cat undercarriage features heavy-duty rollers, idlers and tracks, along with a revised track tensioning system. The superstructure frame, face shovel and backhoe attachment structures, meanwhile, have been redesigned to reduce structural repair and extend service life via increased plate thicknesses and geometrical improvements. The slew ring design extends component life with a triple-race roller bearing and sealed internal gearing.

“The 6060 features a new, state-of-the-art cab and operator station with industry-leading visibility provided by the large floor window and expansive windshield and side windows,” Cat said. “Unrestricted lines of sight to the crawler tracks and pit floor aid the operator when repositioning the shovel and when loading trucks.”

A pneumatically cushioned operator seat can be heated and ventilated. It also has integrated joysticks and is multi-adjustable to offer optimal ergonomics.

This cab also includes two additional seats: a full-size seat and laptop desk for a trainer and a fold-up seat for an observer. The three-seat cab design is the first in this size class of shovels, Cat says.

Improved sound suppression on the power module keeps spectator sound levels low, while the sound suppressed cab provides a quiet working environment for the operator, according to the company.

The first of several features within the available Operator Assist suite, Enhanced Motion Control is standard on the shovel. This improves machine controllability and loading efficiency while reducing linkage and cylinder mechanical contact, according to Cat.

The machine’s five-circuit hydraulics design allows simultaneous control over two cylinder motions, two travel motions and swing to boost digging and loading efficiency, the company added.

The next-generation design helps improve service and maintenance efficiency by offering more room inside the service compartment and easy ground-level accessibility to the service station, Cat says.

Integration of Cat hoses in the design allows for local hose sourcing, while improved hose and component organisation further reduces machine downtime.

Sensors located throughout the 6060 monitor operating data, record faults and give audible and visual notifications of issues to the operator. Product Link™ Elite, which is standard for the first time on the 6060, enables data communication for remote machine health monitoring.

The 6060 comes ready to accept Cat MineStar™ Solutions, a suite of mining technologies geared to enhance mine safety, improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.

In addition to the next generation diesel-powered 6060, Caterpillar continues to offer the electrically powered 6060 AC FS (face shovel) for mines optimised for such machines.

Caterpillar hits 2 billion tonnes hauled milestone with autonomous haulage system

Caterpillar has again hit a significant milestone in autonomous haulage – achieving 2 billion tonnes hauled using Cat® MineStar™ Command for hauling.

The mining OEM’s autonomous haulage system (AHS) has doubled the amount hauled in the 16 months since reaching 1 billon tonnes hauled in November 2018, it said.

“In just a bit over six years, we’ve safely hauled 2 billion tonnes – a milestone we achieved significantly faster than our competitors,” Sean McGinnis, MineStar Solutions Product Manager, said. “This milestone makes Command for hauling the most productive commercially available solution, and it’s something mining people are noticing.”

Since commercially launching Command for hauling in 2013, Caterpillar has continued to improve the speed of implementation. “We’re launching Command on more sites and implementing it more quickly, so more of our customers can experience the safety and productivity gains that autonomous hauling delivers,” McGinnis said. In the company’s March quarter earnings call on April 28, Andrew Bonfield, Chief Financial Officer of Cat, said 282 trucks were running autonomously using Cat Command for hauling.

McGinnis credits input from Caterpillar customers for the success of Command for hauling. “One of the reasons that Caterpillar has been so successful in expanding Command and delivering results is because we listen to and partner with our customers. They identify features, functionality, and even the autonomous truck models they need for their operations.”

One of Cat’s latest AHS customers is Newmont’s Boddington gold mine, in Australia, which earlier this year announced it would become the world’s first open-pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet. This followed the signing of a deal with Caterpillar, which would involve adding some new AHS-enabled Caterpillar 793Fs to the haulage fleet and retrofitting some existing 793Fs with AHS capabilities, a Newmont spokesperson confirmed. In the same March quarter earnings call, Cat’s Bonfield said the company expected to start shipping the first of its new Cat 793F autonomous trucks to the miner next year.

Over the last six years, MineStar Solutions has also continued to grow its expertise in autonomous operations – not only in hauling but also with autonomous dozers, drills and underground loaders, the company said.

John Deselem, Global Autonomy Operations Manager, said: “The skills and knowledge of our MineStar team are unmatched in the industry. Beyond getting better at implementing the system, we’ve become trusted advisors for mine sites looking to take advantage of what autonomy makes possible. We listen to their needs, then work together to build the ideal solution for their mine.”

“The push toward autonomous mining doesn’t show any signs of slowing,” McGinnis said. “We have projects in the works with a number of large mining companies either looking to expand their current autonomous haulage operations or implement new ones.”

The Caterpillar autonomous fleet is made up of Cat 789D, 793D, 793F and 797F trucks, as well as a fleet of Komatsu 930Es. The Cat 794 AC electric-drive autonomous truck will be ready for autonomous haulage later this year. Command equipped trucks have driven over 67.6 million kilometers without a lost-time injury, according to the company.

“Command for hauling has proven its value to mining customers,” McGinnis said. “That value is reflected in the rate at which the Cat autonomous fleet achieved this milestone. The fleet is growing quickly and production continues to climb as mining companies benefit from greater truck productivity, increased truck utilisation, consistent truck operation, and reduced costs.”

Cat’s autonomous hauling and dozing platform receives wireless signal boost

After a year of extensive testing, Caterpillar says it has completed the validation of a wireless technology that will improve networking capabilities for users of its Cat® MineStar™ Command automation offerings for hauling and dozing.

The wireless technology is provided by Fluidmesh Networks, a leader in wireless networking for operational technology applications involving fast roaming and autonomous vehicles, which only yesterday became the subject of a takeover offer from Cisco.

Cat Command for hauling helps improve productivity, efficiency and profitability while reducing overall costs, according to the mining OEM, while Cat Command for dozing provides line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight solutions to keep operators out of the cab and out of harm’s way.

Cosimo Malesci, Fluidmesh Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sales, said: “Fluidmesh’s goal is to help customers achieve higher mine-wide productivity by offering a better wireless transport layer. We are extremely pleased to have been able to achieve this milestone with Caterpillar and extend our solutions to Command customers.”

Fluidmesh employs a multiprotocol label switching based solution over wireless, a routing technique capable of reducing roaming times, packet drops and overall network complexity, according to the company.

Gabe Klyber, IT Communications Consultant for Cat MineStar Solutions, says this translates to higher uptime, higher throughput, and lower latency for Command customers when compared with other solutions. “It will also give our customers more options when it comes to connecting trucks, dozers and other supporting assets,” Klyber said.

The Fluidmesh solution, transmitting at 5 GHz end-to-end, uses artificial intelligence algorithms and dual-polarity antennas to improve transmission in challenging environments, according to Fluidmesh. “This approach adds diversity to the networks supported by Caterpillar for use in Command applications,” Cat says.

Malesci added: “Validating wireless solutions for Command offerings and tele-remote operations takes a massive amount of energy and dedication. We are committed to assisting mining companies with their connectivity needs and are truly excited to be able to offer to Command customers a radical new approach to wireless networking.”

Caterpillar releases new blasthole rig for large-scale mining

Caterpillar says its newest ultra-class rotary blasthole drill rig provides the optimal mix of on-board air, feed force, rotary torque and machine mobility.

Designed for large blasthole production drilling, the MD6380 can deliver a hole diameter range of 251-381 mm, single-pass hole depth of 19.8 m and multi-pass hole depth of 39.5 m, according to the company.

The MD6380 powertrain is designed to efficiently manage loads generated by the compressor and hydraulics, delivering superior fuel economy, Cat says. The compressor is configured with electronic regulation and variable volume air control, allowing the driller to match compressor output with drill tool and application needs. It also lowers standby pressures while the machine is in idle, further improving fuel efficiency.

The MD6380 is capable of pulldown force of 49,895 kg and rotation torque of as much as 20,880 Nm, Cat says, adding that the Cat 3512C diesel engine produces 960 kW and delivers emissions performance equivalent to US EPA Tier 2 and EU Stage II. The powertrain offers extended durability and high availability to help boost use and lower costs, the company added.

Controlled through Cat electronics, the MD6380 has integrated machine protective features and interlocks to help keep operators safe and the machine up and running by preventing potential failures or misuse. Cat Electronic Technician makes troubleshooting quick and easy, the company said. Drill electronics also provide a common platform for the integration of automation solutions.

The MD6380 features a spacious cab that offers superior operator comfort and machine control, Cat says, while an intuitive multi-function joystick controls and touchscreens promote efficient operation.

Display screens are adjustable to suit the driller’s reach and line of sight, and the driller can easily tram from a seated position, according to the mining OEM. “With a full-length driller window, large pane glass around the cab and four standard high-definition cameras, operators have excellent views of key areas,” Cat says.

The machine also features Drill Assist, which delivers automated functions including auto level, auto retract jacks, auto raise and lower mast, and auto drill. The drill depth monitoring system helps to reduce both over- and under-drilling.

The MD6380 incorporates Cat Terrain for drilling, with the MineStar™ technology providing precise hole location, production reporting and strata reporting. Terrain seamlessly connects to Cat Command, offering a path to remote operation and autonomous drilling, Cat added.

“The drill features a best-in-class working envelope with a low centre of gravity and ample approach angles,” Cat claims. These attributes aid manoeuvrability, allowing it to navigate quickly and efficiently hole-to-hole and bench-to-bench.

The Cat excavator-style undercarriage has grease lubricated track pins, positive pin retention and automatic track chain tensioning – all to help the undercarriage deliver extended durability and optimal performance on grades and in tough operating conditions, the company says.

The MD6380 is designed to be rebuilt multiple times for lowest lifecycle costs.

“With parts, maintenance services, condition monitoring and component rebuilds, Cat dealers help ensure high productivity and lowest cost per tonne,” the company said.

Caterpillar, Barloworld to talk up mining equipment and power solutions at Indaba

Caterpillar and its southern Africa dealer, Barloworld Equipment, are set to present a broad range of machines, technology and support services at next week’s Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Caterpillar exhibit at Indaba, running from February 3-6, will feature digital displays of electric power generation systems, surface and underground mining equipment, and Cat MineStar™ technology capabilities – ranging from vehicle safety systems, such as operator fatigue monitoring, to production systems using teleremote, semi-autonomous and autonomous machine operation.

Caterpillar has recently introduced several new underground hard-rock mining vehicles in Africa. The new R1700 underground LHD brings the latest technology for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous operation to the region. The loader also delivers more than 30% greater fuel efficiency, 65% more lift and tilt force, and 15 t capacity – 20% more than its predecessor, yet in the same dimensional envelope, according to Cat.

Using MineStar Command for underground, the new R1700 (pictured) can be operated from a remote location to keep miners away from potential hazards, Cat says. “The system also boosts utilisation by allowing immediate entry after blasting and by reducing shift change time to nearly zero.”

In addition to the R1700, Caterpillar has introduced several LHDs and underground trucks equipped with EU Stage V engines and emission controls. “Reducing emissions helps miners improve the underground working environment,” it said. On top of this, and with the goal of zero underground emissions in mind, Caterpillar is continuing to develop the battery-powered R1700 XE.

Erik Elsmark, Region Manager for the Caterpillar Underground Mining Division, said: “Caterpillar and Cat dealers are supporting the whole African continent and all types of underground mining applications – big and small mines and all minerals.

“In the past several months we have delivered machines covering our full product range, demonstrating that we are well positioned to meet our customers’ needs.

“Starting with our AD22 underground articulated truck to our R2900 LHD, our equipment delivers exactly the size class and power needed for the application. With distribution centres in Southern Africa and Middle East and our dealer network in all countries of the African continent, we are able to achieve world-class service.”

The extensive line of Cat surface mining machines and technologies will also be a talking point at the event.

Caterpillar has recently expanded its line of electric drive mining trucks in the past year to include the 794 AC, 796 AC and 798 AC. Recently, a South Africa mining operation took delivery of several 794 AC trucks (pictured above), which have 291 t capacity, the company said. “This model has already proven its high productivity and superior speed on grade in a wide variety of applications,” Cat remarked.

In the Cat drill line, the latest model is the MD6200 rotary blasthole drill, designed as a production drill with the flexibility to do pre-split drilling – all in a package that Caterpillar says is its most transportable rotary drill yet. The MD6200 is designed to perform rotary or DTH drilling in single-pass or multi-pass modes and can drill holes of 127 to 200 mm in diameter, according to Cat.

Cat MineStar Command now includes systems for autonomous operation of mining trucks, semi-autonomous operation of dozers, and semi-autonomous as well as autonomous rotary drills. These systems enhance safety, boost production and lower cost per tonne, Cat says.

Mine power experts will also be on call at the show, with the representatives keen to talk about the ability for Cat generators to deliver reliable, continuous power, temporary power, or a combined heat and power solution. “The Cat team customises and installs systems for every phase of mining,” it said.

Caterpillar says it offers the industry’s widest range of diesel, gas and dual fuel generator sets; automatic transfer switches, and switchgear for seamless integration. Additionally, it offers microgrids, fully-integrated power systems that utilise solar panels, energy storage and monitoring and control systems in conjunction with any configuration of Cat gen sets.

Fortescue autonomy firsts continue with start-up of AHS-equipped Cat 789Ds

Fortescue Metals Group has completed another significant step to becoming the first iron ore operation in the world to have a fully autonomous haulage fleet with the first Cat 789D model trucks fitted with Autonomous Haulage Technology (AHS) now in operation at its Cloudbreak operation in Western Australia.

Building on Fortescue’s autonomy capability, which began in 2012 when the company was the first in the world to deploy Cat autonomous haulage on a commercial scale, the planned roll out of 38 autonomous trucks at Cloudbreak has commenced. The conversion of Fortescue’s fleet to autonomy across all its mine sites in the Pilbara will see 175 trucks fitted with AHS by mid-2020.

Fortescue’s fleet of autonomous trucks has safely travelled over 28 million kilometres and has moved over 860 Mt of material, delivering a 30% improvement in productivity, according to the company.

In a global first, Fortescue retrofitted Cat Command for Hauling, part of Caterpillar’s MineStar technology, on Komatsu 930E haul trucks at Christmas Creek. The 930Es have been operating alongside the Cat 789Ds since November, “demonstrating the company’s capability to manage and operate the first multi-class truck size autonomous haulage site in the industry”, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Currently, Fortescue’s pioneering AHS deployment is the largest mining technology program in the industry.

“Our approach to autonomy is to be open and transparent with our plans and to work closely with our team members to offer opportunities for re-training and re-deployment. Around 3,000 Fortescue team members have been trained to work with autonomous haulage, including over 200 people trained as Mine Controllers and AHS system professionals. This ensures Fortescue remains transformational and leads to higher skilled workers and jobs.”

The rollout of AHS at Cloudbreak also required the transfer of 160 pieces of machinery to the Cat MineStar Command remote operations server. Cloudbreak is now the first remote mining operation in the world to use the Cat MineStar Command system in production mode, FMG said.

“Our remote operations centre located in Perth is a critical part of our integrated supply chain and key to increasing productivity and efficiency across our operations,” Gaines said.

Denise Johnson, Group President for Caterpillar’s Resource Industries, said: “Caterpillar and Fortescue have a history of industry-leading collaboration in the area of autonomy and automation. Cloudbreak takes this relationship to the next level and demonstrates another great example of Fortescue’s commitment to safety, site productivity and sustainable mining.”

Fortescue’s Cloudbreak mine site is also home to the 5-km relocatable conveyor, previously supplied by RCR Tomlinson, which includes two semi-mobile primary crushing stations and feeds directly into the Cloudbreak ore processing facility (OPF). “Another example of Fortescue’s innovative operations, the infrastructure can be positioned approximate to pits and relocated, extended or shortened once an area is mined,” the company said.

Within two weeks of operation, the conveyor was at full capacity, carrying 5,000 t/h of ore at approximately 25 km/h. The conveyor has replaced the equivalent of 12 manned trucks, FMG said.

“Together with the 11 autonomous drills currently operating across sites and the relocatable conveyor at Cloudbreak, our autonomous operations continue to deliver significant benefits to the business,” Gaines said.

Newmont Australia progresses with Maptek Vulcan and Cat MineStar/Minetec work

Newmont’s Boddington and Tanami gold mines, in Australia, are piloting and deploying technological innovations as they look to optimise resource value and deliver improved operational performance, the company says.

To do this, the company is using regional technology teams that, according to Newmont’s Vice President of Operational Technology and Innovation, Mike Wundenberg, are “instrumental to digital transformation at Newmont”.

The team of technicians and engineers in Australia are, among other initiatives, working on a full rollout at Boddington, one of Australia’s largest gold mines, of the first commercial application of Maptek’s Vulcan optimiser, which Newmont referred to as “an automated, revenue-based ore control software that reduces variability while optimising ore recovery and cutting down on waste”.

The IT team at Boddington provided new infrastructure and support needed to deploy the technology, Newmont said. They also worked to replace Boddington’s old Wi-Fi system in the last two years – a move that now allows for seamless, continuous interoperability and will support the execution of numerous digital initiatives going forward.

Meanwhile, at the Tanami underground gold mine, which produced 500,000 oz of gold last year, a pilot study of the Caterpillar MineStar suite of technologies for underground is underway at Tanami. “This exciting pilot of the latest Caterpillar and Minetec technologies will lay the foundation for a range of Newmont’s safety, productivity and cost initiatives,” Newmont said.

Last year, Caterpillar and Minetec announced this trial at Tanami, saying Newmont would provide operational input from its underground hard-rock mining operations.

Grant Cunningham, Regional IT Operational Engagement Architect, is the primary liaison between the vendors and Newmont site teams. He explained that an important aspect of the pilot is “getting a broad cross-section of personnel exposed to the technologies so they can gain working knowledge of its benefits and contribute to the final assessment”.