As production ramps up at Metro Mining’s Bauxite Hills mine on the western edge of Cape York in Queensland, Scania’s mine trucks are pulling more than their weight moving the bauxite to port.
Metro Mining’s Scania fleet consists of nine V8 powered trucks, one R-620 and eight R-730s, which work around the clock day-in, day-out.
Half of the fleet runs as triples on a 22-kilometre haul route, pulling over 200 tonnes of loads 880 kilometres each day, while the other half pulls 90-tonne loads in two trailers from a pit closer to the port.
The hot and humid North Queensland climate, long days, heavy hauls and bauxite dust doesn’t faze the Scania trucks though, as they take the uneven mine roads and creek crossings with ease.
This is according to the team at Metro Mining, including driver Barry Abel, who commended Scania’s vehicles for their comfortable driver seats, secure feel while driving and smooth gearbox.
“At the end of a shift you don’t feel like you have been working for 12 hours,” Abel said. “The way the Scania drives is very predictable and secure, you always feel connected to the road but not beaten up by it.
“The R-730 has so much grunt we only drop three gears at almost 200 tonnes of payload coming up the rise from the creek crossing.”
The trucks only require refuelling once per shift, despite being on the road around the clock excluding crib breaks during shifts and the trailers are greased once per day.
Scania’s design of the truck is specifically targeted for mine sites with its elevated ride height chassis, nine-tonne front axle and two 16-tonne drive axles.
The trucks also feature the Scania Opticruise automated gear changing system, with off-road mode which controls selection of the 12-speed gear box and its two additional crawler gears.
They are serviced at 250, 500 and 1500-hour intervals onsite by a team of technicians who are equipped with Scania-supplied diagnosis and computer systems. For the Metro Scania trucks’ workload, 500 hours equates to around 18,000 kilometres.
Bauxite Hills maintenance supervisor Jarryd Jevons said the trucks had very low levels of wear and tear despite their heavy workload.
“We have been seeing each truck every 12 to 14 days for the inspection service,” Jevons explained. “(One) truck had done 221,000 kilometres across just about 6000 hours, it’s doing hard work but not complaining.”
To make the most of Scania’s high performance, Metro Mining recently decided to lower the speed limit on the roads from 80 kilometres per hour to 60 kilometres per hour, to preserve road surfaces, reduce wear on the trucks and promote greater productivity.
This safety measure also gives drivers plenty of time to avoid wildlife which can often pop up unexpectedly on the roads in the region, such as wallabies, crocodiles, wild pigs and sometimes cattle.
Scania also sent a trainer to the Bauxite Hills site to assess Metro Mining’s drivers and identify bad habits and explained how the trucks worked, so the team could get the best possible efficiency from them.
Metro Mining general manager and site senior executive at Bauxite Hills Graham Tanner said overall, the trucks had been a huge success at the site.
He was particularly impressed with the continued support post-sale from Scania, which he said had been “exceptional”.
“We’re working at about 98 per cent uptime which is almost unheard of and unbeatable given the harsh operating conditions,” Tanner explained.
“We have a very close working relationship with the Scania team so if we need anything, we know we can just pick up the phone.”
As the Scania trucks have been such a good fit for Metro Mining, the Bauxite Hills site now only uses Scania trucks and the camp, processing and conveying operation is also powered by a fleet of five Scania 600 kilo-volt ampere generators.
Since introducing Scania to its operations, Bauxite Hills has set a strategy to almost double its output during the next two years.
Scania mining services account manager Murray Schneider said the team was delighted to help Metro Mining meet its production targets.
“Essentially, without Scania, the mine stops,” Schneider said. “With this experience in Cape York we can show other local mining and resource operators exactly why we do this.
“In some of Australia’s harshest conditions, our trucks don’t raise a sweat.”