How low can you go?

One machinery company has removed the need for manual labour and conveyor shutdowns when cleaning up on-site spillages.

Given that one of the most important factors in running a mine site is the efficient use of time, extended machine shutdowns pose a major problem.

Spillage and waste underneath a site conveyor system is one of the main culprits of extended site shutdowns.

Traditionally the spillage is removed through manual labour, with workers getting underneath the conveyor with shovels and high pressure hoses to clear the waste materials away.

Needless to say, this is a potentially time consuming and expensive operation that requires the conveyor to be stopped for extended periods of time.

“Usually the removal would be done by hand,” Dugless Machinery sales representative Tony Sinclair told Australian Mining.

“Mine sites have to shut down the conveyor system, so there is often a large cost involved for the company.”

This is where the Dugless 900 comes in.

The Dugless is a low-profile, tracked, remote controlled skid steer loader, featuring a Lombardini two-cylinder diesel engine and a remote control unit supplied by Sweden’s Datek.

The combination of remote opera­tion and clearance low enough to fit under a conveyor means the machinery does not have to be shut down during spillage clean up.

“It was designed specifically for the mining industry because of all of the conveyance systems they have on site,” Sinclair said.

“The biggest advantage is the height of the machine.”

According to Sinclair, at 560 mm, the Dugless 900 is the lowest remote control digger currently available on the world market, able to go places other diggers can not.


Beyond the major advantage that comes from not having to shut down any conveyance machines, the Dugless also provides the solution to a problem that has previously been solved with shovels and hoses.

Eliminating manual labour means faster clean up.

According to Sinclair, using the Dugless to clean up spillage is several times faster than previous methods.

“For such confined spaces, the speed of the machine is a big positive,” he said.

“We compared the speed of the Dug¬less to manual handling of the same materials in the same situation and there was an eight to one ratio in favour of the machine.”


Being remote controlled is a very important feature of the Dugless because it means workers no longer have to put themselves in potentially hazardous situations.

“The safety issues involved were a big reason we designed the machine,” Sinclair said.

“Workers getting injured on site is a big factor in mining today.

“A big positive of the Dugless is that it actually takes the human factor out.”

A number of other safety features are embedded in the machine including a reversing alarm, a bucket mounted strobe, and the option of a personal proximity transmitter in order to prevent the operator from allowing the loader to come too close.

In addition, Dugless can also provide proximity protection cones to help stop the machine travelling into unwanted areas.

Cost benefits

In such a tight financial market, the Dugless’ $120,000 price tag may seem too high for companies that are no doubt often looking to tighten their belts and limit spending.

But, according to Sinclair, the initial outlay to purchase the digger will not show up on a company’s books for too long.

Dugless Machinery is aware that mining companies are often finding themselves in relatively tough financial situations, and they have taken that into account when considering the cost of the new 900.

“After they take the costs involved with shutting down the systems, it has been factored that in three months of operation a company will have the money back,” he said.

“Those financial aspects have been factored into the initial cost of the machine.”

What remains now for Dugless is to start getting more of the machines processed and into operation.

Four are currently on the market, with Dugless 900s in use at Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert and Dampier projects, BHP’s Area C, and another at Fortescue Metals’ Cloudbreak mine.

“We currently have 10 on the bill, which are being manufactured in Perth as we speak,” Sinclair said.

“The biggest thing for us is trying to get it out to everyone in the quickest time possible”

• Dugless Machinery Company

Tony Sinclair

08 9470 9180

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