World’s largest wheel loader debuts

THE world’s biggest front-end rubber-tyred loader has arrived. *Rod Lindblade writes

The world’s biggest front-end rubber-tyred loader — the LeTourneau L-2350 — arrived in Australia in December 2007, to be put to work at CITIC Pacific Mining’s site in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The L-2350 can only be described as gigantic. It is the first loader of this size to arrive in Australia.

The largest capacity bucket option for the L-2350 is a huge 40.5 m3 and the machine can lift 72,574 kg — enabling it to load a huge Ultra Class Terex MT6300 (a 363 metric tonne capacity truck) with only five passes and in just over three minutes.

“The L-2350 moves material quickly and efficiently and this loader provides more versatility than ever before,” said Lindsay Neven, General Manager, LeTourneau Technologies, at the company’s Head Office in Brisbane.

“In fact, the L-2350 is the only wheel loader in the world that is designed to load the bigger Terex MT6300s.

“The diesel engine for powering the electric generators for the electric drive system is a Detroit 16V Series 4000 which generates 1715 kilowatts,” added Neven.

Neven went onto explain that the job of moving the quantities of material expected of a machine of this size is often given to excavators. He added that when it comes to a comparable excavator, a tracked machine of this size represents a significantly higher capital cost, higher fuel burn and much longer travel time from pit to pit.

“By comparison, this huge wheel loader can move comfortably and easily at 16 km/h so moving quickly from one pit to the next is not an issue. With no transmission or differentials, there is no mechanical restriction via heat build-up in moving the loader quickly around the mine, other than adherence to the tyre manufacturer’s guidelines on heat generation,” he explained.

CITIC Pacific Mining is developing a major magnetite surface mine approximately 100 km south west of Karratha in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. It will be the biggest magnetite iron ore mine and only significant iron ore downstream processing facility in Australia. An economic study showed that a wheel loader of this size, with matching trucks, was a good choice for the mine.

“The key criteria that led us to select the LeTourneau L-2350 through our tender process was mobility,” said Dan Tenardi, General Manager of Operations at CITIC Pacific Mining.

The other advantages with the electric drive are lower fuel consumption and longer tyre life.

CITIC Pacific Mining’s project, known as the Sino Ore project, has iron ore reserves of two billion tonnes and the company is planning to export 27.6 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of magnetite concentrate and pellets, with exports to start in early 2009. The required material movement is estimated at 160 Mtpa.

The project, currently budgeted at AUD $5.2 billion, includes construction of significant new infrastructure – a new port, a 51 gigalitre desalination plant, a power station, and an in-pit crusher and conveyor system to move material from the mine to the concentrator and pellet plant near the port.

At the Sino Iron site, the L-2350, fitted with a 28m3 bucket will be working on 35 second cycles or thereabouts, enabling it to load MT4400 trucks on the site in four passes — taking about 3½ minutes.

CITIC Pacific Mining have four other LeTourneau machines arriving in 2008 — two L-950s and two D-950s.

The site will also use RH170s (a 370 tonne excavator) and RH340s (a 600 tonne excavator) as well as Terex trucks — MT3300s and MT4400s.

LeTourneau is the only loader manufacturer in the world to offer advanced electric drive on all their loader and dozer models, making them more economical and easier to operate.

“By providing true independent four wheel drive, LeTourneau loaders offer significantly improved traction, quick response and sure, safe breaking. The 50-Series electric drive systems also reduce wheel slippage, extending tyre life.

“With the world-wide concern of greenhouse gas emissions, mining companies are looking very closely at fuel burn rates. The LeTourneau loader of today makes extremely effective use of carbon fuel used to power the diesel engine, with some of the lowest fuel burn rates of any wheeled or tracked loading device of comparable size. Productivity, versatility and fuel efficiency — these three factors are what mining companies are comparing when they are selecting mining equipment in today’s world,” Neven said.

Some specifications on the world’s largest front-end rubber-tyred loader.

*Written by Rod Lindblade for LeTourneau Technologies. For more information, call Rod at Northfield Communications – Business-to-Business advertising and journalism on 03 9681 9585, or email

Key contact:

Lindsay Neven

General Manager

LeTourneau Technologies Australia Pty Ltd

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