UNITED STATES: Deep in the heart of America’s Midwest, a team of Volvo articulated haulers are not only helping to round up the best limestone available, but are also helping drive Lafarge North America’s sustainability efforts
by Chi-an Chang
Lafarge North America is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in North America and part of the Lafarge Group, known globally for operating its cement plants, concrete operations, aggregate quarries and mines in an environmentally friendly manner.
At one of its aggregate quarries in South Elgin, Illinois, the company uses four Volvo A40D articulated haulers to help make fuel savings and reduce the impact of the underground operations on the environment.
With a 37,000kg (40.7 tons) load capacity and an operating weight of 68,270kg (68.6 tons), the A40D has a 12-liter 313kW (426hp) engine and electronically controlled, fully automatic planetary transmission with six forward and two reverse gears. It can haul the roughest, toughest, heaviest limestone from the quarry to be processed and screened.
“In the past, our hauler trucks consumed nine to 10 gallons (34-37 liters) of fuel per hour of operations, whereas the Volvo articulated haulers consume about eight gallons (30 liters) per hour of operations,” says Ahmed Hamadi, operations manager at Midwest Aggregates, Lafarge US.
Currently, Lafarge US is mining 469,000m² (116 acres) of the Fox River Quarry, which still has around 60 years of limestone reserves. During peak summer operating seasons, up to 11,000kg (10,000–12,000 tons) of limestone are hauled and delivered to their final destination every day.
The 91m (300ft) deep Fox River Quarry resembles an underground city where mined benches create roads wide enough for Volvo haulers to enter and exit the site. With a 15-17% slope to maneuver down into the quarry, Hamadi explains that it is important to have haulers that are stable on steep slopes and have the power to climb them fully laden, day after day, whatever the weather.
“The Volvo vehicles are flexible – they are designed so that if the haul body tips over, the cab generally keeps its ‘feet’ on the ground,” Hamadi says. “I’d say the Volvo A40D is the equipment of choice for underground mines today because of its flexibility, reliability and fuel savings.”
Hamadi, who manages the Fox River Quarry and other Lafarge US underground mines in the Midwest, says every single one of the sites uses Volvo.
“We run the machines hard and we like the Volvo haulers because they are workhorses that can handle the tough workload,” he says.
Lafarge US also replaces the fleet at Fox River Quarry every other year to improve air quality and to keep emission and diesel particulate matter levels low.
“We generally try to have a newer fleet underground than we do on the surface so we can take advantage of new technology, which can help improve air quality,” says Sean Hawley, vice president and general manager, Midwest Aggregates, Lafarge US.
CLOSE TO HOME
Another way the Lafarge Group reduces greenhouse gas emissions is by going local. For example, the limestone mined at Fox River Quarry travels less than 40km (25 miles) to its final destination.
“Our product also helps contractors meet Illinois Department of Transportation and Tollway recycle material targets,” explains Joëlle Lipski-Rockwood, communications director for Lafarge US. “Because the stone quality at Fox River is so high, contractors can incorporate more recycled materials into the asphalt mix – this allows for a reduction in the amount of oil used in asphalt mixes, which reduces costs to taxpayers and benefits the environment.”
The quarry’s limestone has also been used to help reconstruct several major tollways in Illinois, including the Midwest portion of the Interstate 90 – the longest highway in the United States. At an incredible 4,990km (3,101 miles) long, it runs coast-to-coast, from Boston in the east to Seattle in the west.
BEST IN CLASS
In 2013, the Lafarge Group and Volvo Group were both members of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Climate Savers, having committed to becoming best in class in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. WWF data from May 2012 shows that Climate Savers member companies have cut their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 100 million tonnes since the program began in 1999. That is about twice Switzerland’s current yearly CO2 emissions.