SOUTH AFRICA: Terex Trucks, Volvo CE’s most recent acquisition, thrive in the baking heat of South Africa’s remote Northern Cape
by Lauren Clifford-Holmes
A merciless sun beats down on the dry, dusty expanse of Anglo American’s Kolomela iron ore mine in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The blue sky and rusty red earth meet at a horizon broken only by the hills created by the mining waste dump. All is still, until a series of trucks roar into sight carrying heavy loads of ore and waste from the pit they are servicing.
The sheer power of these machines becomes apparent as they get closer. They are not the shiny clean trucks of the showroom or from the pages of an industry magazine – these are robust, working machines. In this harsh environment, the Terex Trucks TR100 rigid dump trucks are comfortably at home.
Geelbooi Montana, a Roux Engineering site supervisor at the mine looks on them with pride. “They are powerful trucks and they don’t give us breakdown problems,” he says. “The operators love the trucks – they say they are beautiful. They all want to drive them.”
Erik Lundberg, business manager of Terex Trucks in Sub-Saharan Africa says: “Terex Trucks has a long history making articulated and rigid dump trucks so we certainly know what we are doing. The trucks have fantastic high quality components and are tough, strong, rugged machines built for these kinds of conditions.”
Founder and co-director of Roux Engineering, Johan Roux, has been using Terex Trucks in mines for eight years. He started with the TR45s and the TR60s and now has a fleet of 21 TR100 trucks in operation at Kolomela. Each truck can potentially handle about 55 cubic meters of material at a load of 91 tonnes. This matters in an iron ore mine where the material is incredibly dense and heavy. Roux explains that the bank density of the waste is about three tonnes a cubic meter, while blasted material is about two tonnes per cubic meter.
As to the trucks’ performance under the weight, Roux says: “Fully loaded the trucks handle the load with ease. There is no problem on the hills as there is enough power and we don’t experience any problems with the brakes.”
Roux Engineering is one of the main contractors at the mine, responsible for mining a quarter of the Kolomela’s annual production. To meet the demand, Roux’s fleet moves around 70,000 tonnes of waste during the course of two nine-hour shifts at the mine every day. Roux estimates that between January and the end of November 2014 the trucks have moved a total of about 21 million tonnes.
Despite their grueling schedule, Roux is happy with the efficiency of his trucks: “If you maintain them well, you can get a total efficiency of about 80% from the fleet, which has brand new trucks working alongside those with about 20,000 hours already behind them.”
Out here, maintenance is key. The Northern Cape is the most sparsely populated province in the country and Kolomela is hundreds of kilometers away from major cities. Johannesburg, home to the Terex Trucks parts, is about 700km away, which is where Roux says one of the biggest benefits of the Terex Trucks come in.
“We’re far away from everything and to get skilled people up here is difficult,” he says. “What makes these trucks suitable for this area is that they are easy to maintain, especially the electrical systems. These are simple, so a regular automobile electrician can maintain the trucks without any problems.”
Lundberg agrees, explaining that the TR100s stand out in the market in this respect. “They have actually been designed with mining in remote areas in mind,” he says.
Roux has an on-site maintenance contract with Eqstra Construction Equipment, the distributor of Terex Trucks in South Africa. They have permanent staff and a storeroom of spare parts at the mine, which means that downtime is minimal. All the equipment is maintained according to OEM (original equipment manufacture specifications). “This is so we can get the best performance out of the equipment and ensure it will last for many years,” says Roux.
The TR100s are also particularly well suited to contractors who want a decent-sized truck without the added expense of disassembling it every time they move to a new site. These 91-tonne trucks are the largest that can be transported in one piece on flatbed trucks on South African roads.
Wally Ackerman of Eqstra says: “With the TR100 you have the Cummins engine and the Allison transmission which is a very good combination for carrying the heavy iron ore across the distances Johan Roux needs them to travel.”
Spend a day around these trucks and their operators and it becomes very clear – these are hardworking, tough and resilient machines and Volvo CE has done well to add them to its range of products. Company President Martin Weissburg comments that Volvo CE’s existing portfolio was suited to the quarrying and light mining segment, but with sales in mining forecast to rise in the mid-term, it was a good time to enter the rigid hauler market.
Lundberg says that, as a company, Terex Trucks also feels it has been a positive acquisition. “Volvo came into the market place with a positive message. The company has said it will be supporting all of our dealers and our current dealer network,” he says. “The Volvo takeover of Terex Trucks has been handled very professionally and the communication from Volvo has also been very good.”
Volvo CE is justly proud to add these trucks to its equipment catalog – just as long as no one expects them to stay clean and shiny for very long. That just would not suit them at all.