Versatility Goes Underground

A CUSTOM-BUILT WHEEL LOADER ATTACHMENT GOES THE EXTRA MILE AT A MT ISA MINE

IN ORDER TO SUSTAIN a world-class operation such as the Mt Isa Mines, it is important to continually evolve to meet the needs of the market, and this requires the support of a machinery company that is equally versatile. 

Mt Isa Mines is one of Australia’s largest mining operations, and at the heart of the endeavour is Glencore. With over 90 years’ experience in the mining and resources sector, Glencore’s ability to mine multiple resources from one mine sets it apart as a leading diversified natural resource company and a major producer and marketer worldwide. 

With the task of keeping the Mt Isa copper mines running, Production Superintendent Gary Ferguson turned to Hitachi Construction Equipment Australia (HCA) to deliver responsive, reliable, and even customised machinery.  The operation now runs three pieces of John Deere equipment supplied by HCA: a John Deere 672 Underground Grader and two John Deere 544K Wheel Loaders.

“These machines are operating in the harsh environments of the underground copper mines and face rough terrain and high ambient heat,” Gary says.

The grader is performing road maintenance throughout the mines, and is operating at peak performance, thanks to the six wheel drive component and easily accessed maintenance points.  

“The traction the grader delivers on the surface of the mines is exceptional,” Gary says. “Our operators are also really happy with the overall useability and serviceability of the machine.”

In addition to the grader, the customised wheel loaders built for Gary are also being put to the test in the harsh environment, showing their true versatility and performance capability.

The first of Gary’s wheel loaders is fitted out with a forklift attachment to deliver explosives underground as needed across the mine. While this isn’t a unique application, the machine was designed to meet strict underground mining specifications. 

A partnership between HCA and QMW Industries provided Gary with a bespoke attachment for the other 544K wheel loader, turning this machine into efficient mobile tyre fitting unit.

John Deere 544K wheel loaders are equipped with excavator-style hydraulics that sense the load and deliver smooth combined functions and fast work cycles, and Gary’s custom unit is no exception.

“The wheel loader’s tyre fitting attachment is custom built to rotate and tilt both ways, offering significantly increased safety, as the operators don’t have to position themselves between the machine and the tyre,” Gary says. 

“We currently have a training program that will help our guys become more familiar with the machines so we can be sure to use them to their full capacity, which will make us even more productive.”

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