Komatsu mining equipment, introduced to an iron-ore mine in South Australia by BGC Contracting
is getting good acceptance from operators previously wedded to other brands, as well as achieving outstanding performance from the new machines.
Last year BGC Contracting won a five-year contract to mine iron-ore at Arrium Mining's South Middleback Ranges (SMR) site, which required it to purchase a significant fleet of new Komatsu equipment to handle the project when it started on November 1, 2012.
New Komatsu equipment on the project includes five 150 tonne HD1500 dump trucks, seven WA900-3 wheel loaders, five D375A-6 dozers, one HD405 water cart and one HD785-7 water cart, along with a number of used Komatsu equipment including seven HD785-7 dump trucks, WA500 and WA600 wheel loaders and three HD785-5 water carts.
The SMR mine is located approximately 50 km from Whyalla in South Australia, and is one of three mines owned by Arrium Mining (formerly known as OneSteel) in the Middleback Ranges area.
According to Peter Tejchman, Executive General Manager Plant with BGC Contracting, the HD1500s are used for hauling ore to stockpile areas, as well as hauling overburden to waste dumps. The dozers are used for haul road, dump & pit floor area maintenance, and the WA900s for train loading, rehandle & hopper feed operations.
"The WA900s are critical to this operation," he said. "Train loading is the pointy end of the operation; if you don't get this stuff on the train, basically you don't get the profit."
The seven WA900s are loading up to five trains a day, seven days a week.
"We recognise the WA900 as a really good machine," said Peter. "I think it's probably the best loading tool around in this size."
His comments were backed up by Frank Wightman, BGC's Plant Operations Manager at the SMR site.
"We are more than impressed with the WA900s.
"Certainly it helps that they are new, they are more reliable, plus they incorporate some of the BGC smarts with the bucket design. That is different to what the site had been using, that's made it a bit easier for the operators to keep their work areas clean and flat, so they are more than happy with them."
Frank said the big surprise to him had been the operator acceptance of the HD1500s and D375A-6s at SMR.
"At this site, the previous contractor was 99% another brand, and we've introduced a lot of new Komatsu machines to the operators. The HD1500s have been accepted pretty well by the operators; we've had good reports from all parts of the operation, from management and the operators.
"They are a new size of Komatsu truck for us, and we didn't really know how they were going to perform in this operation, but they are exceeding expectations. Everyone at the site is very happy with them.
"We are really impressed with the speed of the HD1500 compared with its competitors, plus their reliability has been good. However, the big thing that has surprised me has been the acceptance of the D375s with these operators," Frank said.
"The word back from the operators is that they really don't mind operating this tractor. I think the fact that Komatsu has done a lot of work on improving the comfort of this dozer with the latest Dash 6 version has a lot to do with this," he said.
In opting to have a significant Komatsu fleet at SMR, BGC Contracting laid down a major challenge to Komatsu Australia in providing the required levels of service and support.
"Previously this site was predominantly one supplier, so there has not been a lot of Komatsu support in Whyalla in the past," said Peter.
"We have a long-standing alliance relationship with Komatsu, so they were always going to be our first port of call.But we had to weigh this up with trusting that Komatsu could set up a new operation in Whyalla and deliver what we needed.
"So far, I think it is fair to say that they have delivered," he said.
"They built the parts store on the back of this contract and now they've got a branch depot in Whyalla, so it's been a win/win I think for Komatsu and us.
"Komatsu now probably have a bigger presence in the mining industry in South Australia than it had before, and it's a credit to them that they've done this.
"The service and support we are getting from the local Komatsu branch in Whyalla is good, very good."
As with other significant Komatsu purchases, BGC used Komatsu Australia Corporate Finance KACF to fund the fleet.
"We have a long-term relationship with Komatsu Finance; they have always given us very competitive terms to the point where a high percentage of our business is financed through them," said Peter.
"They have a good understanding of our business and the way we operate, and it's a historical relationship that goes to the very top of our company."
About BGC Contracting
BGC Contracting is part of BGC (Australia) Pty Ltd, a privately Australian owned and diversified industrial group. The BGC Group is one of Australia's largest privately owned companies, which presently employs more than 4,000 people.
BGC Contracting's two operational business units (Mining and Civil) deliver a wide range of mining and construction services across the resources, government infrastructure, building and manufacturing sectors. The mining operations, including significant iron-ore mining activities in Western Australia and now South Australia, provide surface mining, drill and blast, off-road and on-road haulage, crushing and screening, and train loading services.
Established in April 1992, and with offices in Perth and Brisbane and depots in key regional areas, the company has extensive experience on major mining and civil construction projects nationwide.
BGC Contracting's vision is to be the leader in mining and civil solutions that deliver successful projects for their clients.
About Arrium Mining
Arrium Mining currently exports approximately six million tonnes per year of hematite ore to China from its Middleback Ranges mining operations in South Australia.
The business expects to increase its export sales run rate to approximately 12 million tonnes per annum by mid-2013. This is being made possible through bringing on-line additional sales from its Southern Iron operations near Coober Pedy in South Australia, and the doubling of its port capacity at Whyalla to around 13 million tonnes per annum.