Mining sites are home to some pretty spectacular machines valued at millions of dollars. Because they're used in remote, highly controlled locations, many people don't get up close to these enormous vehicles or see what they're capable of.
Defined as 'ultra-class' trucks, they're a category killer known for their size, speed and capacity. Here's a snapshot of the six biggest doing the heavy lifting in mining today.
The world's largest, highest payload capacity haul truck is the BelAZ 75710. A product of Belarus, its 'industrial' design is typical of many machines that come from the old Eastern Bloc countries. Big and bulky, it has a conventional two-axle setup but twice as many wheels (four to each axle) as standard trucks, allowing it to carry a 450 metric tonne load. It has four-wheel drive, four-wheel hydraulic steering and its sheer size gives it a wide turning circle of about 20 metres. Over 20 metres long, it weighs in at 360,000 kilograms – the equivalent of more than 200 cars – and can go up to 64kph.
The second-largest load capacity dump truck, the Caterpillar 797F can transport up to 363 metric tonnes. Introduced in 2008, this Cat stalwart runs on six Michelin XDR or Bridgestone VRDP tyres, and houses a C175-20 diesel engine. Shorter and leaner than the BelAZ 75710 (though still enormous!), it can go slightly faster, reaching top speeds of 68kph.
Bucyrus MT6300AC, previously known as the Terex Unit Rig MT6300AC and now repackaged as the Caterpillar 798 AC, has evolved through two rebrands and survived the test of time. This truck can carry a 363 metric tonne load and reach 64kph. Its 20-cylinder, four-stroke engine has an electric alternator, which supplies power to an electric motor mounted on the rear axle. Generally recognised for having greater power than their mechanical forebears, the electric drive AC dump trucks are increasingly becoming the truck of choice for many mine sites. They're quick, generate a more consistent and controlled acceleration curve, show stronger braking performance and are more fuel efficient.
The T 282C and its newer model, the T 284, by Liebherr are the lightest (lowest empty vehicle weight) and most capable (highest payload capacity, also known as “ultra-class”) mining trucks around today. These trucks can haul 363 metric tonnes but their relatively light weight (237 tonnes) makes them highly fuel efficient. They can also reach up to 64kph.
Another behemoth out of Belarus, the BelAZ 75601 is part of a series of ultra-class haul trucks developed specifically for transporting loosened rocks at open-pit mine sites under different climatic conditions. This truck has a 360 metric tonne payload capacity and uses an electromagnetic transmission with a 20-cylinder, four-stroke diesel V-engine, reaching a top speed of 64kph.
A late-comer to the party in 2016 but not to be outdone, Komatsu's 980E measures up to its competitors at 363 metric tonne capacity. An optimal match with the big bucket loading machines found in large scale mining applications, the 980E-4 electric haul truck is the largest of Komatsu's range. As the big brother, it builds upon the success achieved with their 830E, 930E and 960E haul trucks.
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