Glencore challenging the status quo at Mount Isa Mines


Glencore has taken on 10 Kovatera light vehicles as it looks to improve its current underground utility fleet at Mount Isa Mines in Queensland.

Dave Anderson has been working with Mount Isa Mines (MIM) for 36 years and is currently the company’s maintenance superintendent for light vehicles (LVs) in north-west Queensland.

He’s seen it all in the maintenance world and has become an expert at devising strategies to reduce downtime and operating costs on mine sites.

So when MIM wanted to increase the durability of its underground LVs, the company turned to Kovatera.

Glencore operates more than 130 LVs at MIM and has a number of maintenance strategies based on the various failure modes, with the brake system the prominent limiting factor.

According to Anderson, any LV operating on a standard rear brake system in the underground environment requires maintenance intervention every 14–21 days to prevent premature failures. This is where Kovatera offers a more reliable and effective system.

“We’ve got control measures in place where the internal wet brake system is a more reliable and efficient system, and Kovatera meet that requirement,” Anderson told Australian Mining. “That was one of the main drivers around trialling the Kovatera LVs, as it allows us to extend our maintenance strategy and potential life of asset.

“While it’s going to take a number of years to phase out the current LVs and fully implement the Kovateras into the business, we expect to have a reduction in fleet numbers and maintenance requirements over that time.

“This is what we’re basing our decision on and the Kovatera is a more fit for purpose unit.”

Glencore’s Dave Anderson next to the Kovatera.


There are currently six Kovateras supporting Glencore’s underground mining operations at Mount Isa, with a further four in transit.

The Kovatera LVs don’t just stand apart for their brake systems, but also for their chassis strength. The chassis is made of fabricated steel with a flat plate ‘T’ configuration, giving the vehicle a very sturdy backbone.

Based on this design, Kovatera and Drivetrain are able to provide a five-year/5000-hour warranty on the chassis.

“Life of asset has been an issue with our LVs. We’ve tried a lot of vehicles over the years and the chassis has always been the weakest link in our equipment, which ultimately determined the life of asset,” Anderson said.

“We’ve tested various brands and vehicle types, but the chassis just don’t hold up from an operational perspective.”

A stronger chassis means a safer vehicle. The Kovatera LVs also have rollover protective structure (ROPS) and falling object protective structure (FOPS) certification, which means they can navigate more areas underground compared to other LVs.

Kovatera’s fail-safe braking system is also a key attribute, as are the machines’ automatic speed-limiting capabilities.

Drivetrain has played a critical role in getting the Kovatera LVs to site, and the company will continue its support of Mount Isa Mines into the future, ensuring they attend to every need.

“I know we’re in the early stages of our relationship, but in the past 12 months Mount Isa Mines have been appreciative of the support Drivetrain has shown,” Anderson said.

“It’s hard to get an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to make changes as quickly as we want. There’s always going to be some initial minor requests from us, and Drivetrain has responded promptly to make the required alterations.”

“The teamwork approach we’ve established to make these machines successful has been reassuring. To date, I am very happy with the work Drivetrain has been doing.”

To further expedite Glencore’s deployment of Kovatera LVs at MIM, Drivetrain is establishing more support closer to the source.

Drivetrain technical manager Shayne Griffin said this had started by consolidating parts.

“One of the most important things for us is the ability to supply parts at a local level. Drivetrain is currently in the process of implementing spare parts and warehousing into Mount Isa for immediate supply and ongoing support. This will be the first stage,” he said.

“The next stage will be the implementation of Drivetrain technical and onsite support in the Mount Isa region to support our growing fleet of Kovateras.” 

This feature appeared in the April issue of Australian Mining.

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