BHP leverages Liebherr for South Flank mining muscle

BHP Liebherr

One of BHP South Flank’s six R 9600 excavators.

BHP has partnered with Liebherr to power its R 9600 excavator fleet at the South Flank iron ore mine in Western Australia, reducing maintenance and standardising parts.

The original equipment manufacturer will integrate its D9812 Liebherr engines into BHP’s six existing 600-tonne excavators, with installation occurring in 2023 and 2024.

BHP South Flank general manager Steve Campbell met in Perth with Liebherr executive general manager for customer service Tony Johnstone to sign off on the deal.

“BHP has a long-standing relationship with Liebherr across our Western Australian Iron Ore operations, and we have six of their largest machines in operation at South Flank,” Campbell said.

“We’re looking forward to continuing with this collaboration which promises to bring performance and availability improvements to South Flank as we continue to ramp up production.”

First ore was delivered at South Flank in May 2021, after $4.65 billion and 9000 jobs made it possible.

The 80 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) mine is the largest iron ore mine Australia has seen in over 50 years and combines with BHP’s Mining Area C to be the largest iron ore hub in the world – producing a combined 145Mtpa.

To ensure such a massive operation is reliably run, the integration of Liebherr engines follows a two-year validation study at BHP’s Jimblebar mine where the D9812 engine powered an R 9400 for almost 20,000 hours.

BHP vice president of procurement Mark Pickett said Liebherr’s integration had several benefits on South Flank and BHP more broadly.

“We welcome the introduction of Liebherr engines into our equipment to deliver a more sustainable outcome and lower overall cost, as well as allowing Liebherr to have better control of product improvement,” Pickett said.

“We look forward to continued partnership with Liebherr on these initiatives that make BHP’s operations more productive and improve sustainability.”

The D98 series is the most powerful in Liebherr’s mining range having been designed specifically for this application.

The engine is even compatible with sustainably produced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel which can significantly reduce carbon emissions.

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