In today’s mining arena, every cent counts. Analysts from PwC have stated that it is not just the operation costs that are rising, even the commodity prices have been increasingly volatile; and they note that there are other problems we have to face like resource nationalism as well.
However, one company from the former Soviet republic of Belarus has decided to act on the pressing problems and at least deal with one part of it – the cost challenge. Belaz, a state-owned company, decided to create a dump truck big enough to be considered as the biggest one in the world named the Belaz 75710. If you can’t imagine its size, here is a reference: Imagine two double-decker buses that are parked from end to end, that’s how long it is. It is also said to be heavier than a fully-loaded Airbus A380 passenger plane and even up to six times more powerful than the Formula 1 racing cars of today. If you still haven’t grasped an idea of it, we can make it simpler: even if you are standing, you would have a hard time reaching halfway of one of its tyres. Yes, just the tyre. Well, unless you are about two metres tall, then you might be able to reach half of it. We’ve talked previously about how technology is changing the mining industry, and this truck is the epitome of advanced engineering.
The truck was unveiled in 2013, but the first and only Belaz 75710 has only started working last October. This dump truck has massive tyres to complement its hauling capacity of 450 tonnes. This makes them capable of hauling the giant and heavy payloads as one tyre can support about 102 tonnes. All in all, it has eight tubeless pneumatic tyres that come in pairs as its wheels. Besides its own weight of 350 tonnes, the massive tyres make it possible to have the maximum capacity load hauled.
The makers of this dump truck spared no expense on the design features as the Belaz 75710 comes with a diesel-electric transmission system. In order to produce electricity for its four electric motors, two 16-cylinder diesel engines have to drive the generators. An average family car only has four or six cylinders making up its engine, so you can just imagine the scale of power this monster truck can show off. A peak torque of 18,626Nm or about 13, 738 lb/ft tops off all these features and is the pride of the manufacturer.
Even though the fuel consumption has been estimated at around 1,300L per 100km, it can be run on only one engine to save fuel. The engineers at Siemens have developed the “drive system” which made all-wheel driving possible for the dump truck. This has been a handy feature because if one of its motors breaks down, they can still drive it back to a repair centre.
If you are driving a dump truck this big, you might be expecting that it is hard to maneuver as it looks. It is not. In this truck, both axles steer which allows it to have a turning radius of 65 feet or 19.8 meters. This also makes it easier for the drivers to get it where they want it quicker than most of us would actually think. With a top speed of 40mph, this 26-ft-high truck can still climb a 10% gradient at a speed of 25mph. Not bad for a truck this size. And if problems may arise, the software installed by the Siemens engineers establishes a connection in order for the engineers in different countries to communicate and discuss.
For a truck that has been made to operate on efficiency and fuel consumption, a price tag of a little bit over $6M can be reasonable for mining corporations to invest in. Compared to the $5M price tag of the Caterpiller 797, it becomes even more reasonable.