Mining equipment manufacturer BELAZ is plotting its re-emergence in the Australian market.
The Belarusian company, which offers the world’s largest dump truck at 450 tonnes, scaled back its presence in Australia during the commodities downturn.
With market conditions rebounding, however, BELAZ believes this year has presented the opportune time for the company to re-establish its equipment on Australian shores.
BELAZ has grown into one of the world’s leading mining equipment manufacturers since it was founded in 1948, now manufacturing around 145,000 machines annually for distribution to more than 70 countries.
It has not, however, had a huge impact in the Australian marketplace despite this global expansion.
BELAZ aims to change this by offering an extensive, and growing, range of dump trucks for open pit and underground applications, such as the 75602 360-tonne machine that is powered by an MTU 20V 4000 series diesel engine.
The company is confident its range of purpose-built dump trucks, available in a variety of different payloads, will deliver significant value in the Australian mining industry as optimism continues to gather momentum.
BELAZ also plans to entice the Australian market towards its equipment by providing cost and maintenance advantages that benefit the entire fleets of miners.
The manufacturer’s major advantage, according to BELAZ head of commercial, overseas, Vasili Shostak, is that it can offer operators the lowest total cost of ownership for their fleet, including the initial cost and ongoing servicing.
“Unless the servicing or maintenance (of the equipment) isn’t done correctly, we can guarantee our total cost of ownership will be less than any other truck or dump truck,” Shostak told Australian Mining.
“We are the only company that produces this kind of equipment on an assembly line – this is one of the ways we optimise the initial cost.
“Apart from cost optimisation, this also gives us flexibility in the output volumes and with the help of the assembly line we can also optimise lead times with the manufacturing.”
Shostak believes the company’s manufacturing model also leads to increased “freedom of choice” for mining companies that are more particular about the specifications of the equipment they require.
This covers both the engines and drive systems of the trucks they manufacture, he said.
“We use engines from well-known manufacturers like Cummins or MTU, and also in Russia we have projects at the moment where we use Scania or Liebherr engines in the trucks,” Shostak said.
“We also use electric drives from Siemens or GE and there are a number of Russian companies that have proven themselves, in our experience, which also supply electrical drive systems. We offer a lot of flexibility – the client can build the truck they want specifically for the application.”
Shostak said the company’s trucks with a capacity of 90 tonnes and higher were designed to perform well in Australian conditions and have been tested in the harshest mining environments.
He revealed the company was planning to introduce a 290-tonne truck to its range and was also exploring certain modifications to several existing machines, including an expansion of its range of electric and autonomous models.
BELAZ is supplying its equipment to the Australian industry through Perth-based representative, Australasian Pacific Engineering Group (APEG) – a company it established a partnership with earlier this decade.
APEG is responsible for the marketing of BELAZ’s equipment in the region, as well as for providing servicing and maintenance activities to users.
Shostak said the relationship between the equipment manufacturer and APEG offered a lot of potential for the Belarusian company.
“We believe in strong collaboration with the local representative, and for them to do all of the servicing and to provide the local support,” Shostak explained.
“From our experience the end user always likes to deal with the local companies that have the experience and knowledge here in the (local mining) conditions.”
BELAZ is hopeful of developing relationships with Australia’s major mining companies as well, with the likes of BHP, Rio Tinto and other transnational miners in the company’s sights.
The company will also make modifications to its newer models so they satisfy safety regulations in Australia. Shostak said there were notable differences in safety requirements between Australia and other markets where the company’s equipment was being used.
However, he is confident BELAZ’s trucks will be well suited for Australian conditions, like they are in these other areas of the global mining industry.
“We believe all of our mining trucks are ready to be operated here,” he said.
“Starting from the 90-tonne truck and moving higher, we think that there will be demand here for those trucks, and we are sure that with the proper maintenance it will be much more cost effective to operate these trucks here in Australia compared to competitors.”
This article also appears in the November edition of Australian Mining.