A major coal mining operation in the outback of South Australia has standardised on Komatsu mining equipment largely due to the service and support package on offer to achieve the required availability and production requirements.
Alinta Energy's Leigh Creek Coalfield (LCC) currently operates a fleet of Komatsu equipment for its extraction, hauling and stockpile operations, including a PC4000-6 (400T) Excavator, a PC5500-6 (550T) Excavator, three 830E-1AC 220 tonne capacity electric drive Dump Trucks, a WA1200-6 Wheel Loader and an HD785-7 Water Cart. LCC have also recently purchased an additional PC4000-6 excavator and are trialling our D375A-6 bulldozer with additional replacement equipment scheduled over the next few years.
The Leigh Creek coal mine operated by Alinta Energy's Flinders Operations Division is a unique mining operation, extracting coal and then railing it 250 km south to Northern Power Stations located in Port Augusta, which supply up to 40% of South Australia's electricity requirements.
The town of Leigh Creek is leased and operated by the mine, as is the rail link to Port Augusta and most days, a trainload of around 11,000 tonnes of coal leaves Leigh Creek and is railed to Port Augusta.
However, over the next three years, the Leigh Creek mine will change its mining operations significantly, operating from three new pits within the mine.
Currently Leigh Creek has an annual output of 2.5 million tonnes of brown coal, but with the opening of the new pits, this can rise to around 4 million tonnes if market conditions suit.
Peter Kelly, Alinta Energy's Manager at Leigh Creek, said the new mine would have a life of around 15 years, "so it's really our future."
"We are currently in transition from Leigh Creek to our three new pits, and our entire mining and support functions will move to the new site," he said.
"At the same time, we are engaged in a process of revamping our operations and 'refleeting' our equipment.
"Within the next three years, we'll be refleeting our digging units, our trucks and our ancillary equipment, in what will involve a substantial amount of work and cost," said Peter.
"As part of this, 18 months ago, we purchased the Komatsu excavator, trucks and loader, and there is potential for a further 9-10 trucks.
"Refleeting is an expensive undertaking, but it's vital, because we need to move from rope shovels to hydraulic excavators to suit our future mining operations," he said.
"The electricity market is highly volatile; there are huge fluctuations in demand, and the accompanying uncertainty, so we need to keep tight controls on our costs.
"The reason we went for Komatsu was the support," Peter said.
"Basically, we feel all makes of machines do the same thing, and the costs of each were very much the same.
"But because we are so isolated here, the support package we got from Komatsu was critical for us.
"Komatsu took a very realistic approach; no over-promising or under-delivering, and it's always been a very good relationship," he said.