At Minexpo in 2012 Atlas Copco wowed the world with talk of an 85t payload underground hauler. That would be 25t more than its largest hauler the MT6020.
The world waited … and waited.
It turns out the 85t hauler, while a nice to have, was arguably a step too far for existing drive technologies and tyre ratings.
In the underground realm there are fairly unique constraints too. The vehicle has to be able to fit through and manoeuvre in a 5m by 5m space and negotiate climbs and descents on a one in seven grade.
What the Swedish equipment maker opted to do instead was go for an incremental lift in tonnes and after three years development the MT65 was born.
While the MT65 might have rolled out of Atlas Copco’s Orebro factory, it cut its teeth in Western Australia at St Barbara Mines’ Gwalia operation.
That operation was chosen partly due to its 10km haul, as well as the fact it also runs the MT6020 60t haulers.
The Gwalia trial was over 2000 hours with key performance indicators of tonne-kilometre, payload and speed on grade assessed.
“We saw a 10% increase in tkm compared to the existing fleet,” Atlas Copco business line manager underground equipment Wayne Syme said.
“The average payload was 65.7t and the truck achieved the same cycle time as existing machines on site with the benefit of increased payload.”
Indeed, when looking at fuel consumption, the fuel consumption per tonne is lower in the MT65 than the MT6020.
Syme said the front axle suspension on the MT65 had been enhanced even further on what was in the MT6020.
“We getting good feedback from the operators,” he said.
“They can maintain a little bit higher speed if they are getting a little bit more comfort.”
The MT65 also arrives at sites automation ready.
It comes with Atlas Copco’s Rig Control System, which makes automation possible, but also makes available a host of key vehicle data.
A fair bit of work has been done on the hydraulics too, to make them more efficient and free up horsepower to moving the machine up and down the haul road.
For example, the engine fan speed can be adjusted to suit the vehicle’s cooling needs at the time rather than just running at a speed governed by the engine.
While the 65t hauler has proved its worth, at least one Byrnecut representative is still keen to see the 85t version.
Syme told Australia’s Mining Monthly that Atlas Copco had tried to get the 85t truck up and running but had hit some “insurmountable challenges” around the drive line and the tyres.
Then there is the market for it.
“The market for the MT85 is much smaller than for a 65t truck,” Syme said.
Atlas Copco elected to show off the MT65, which will be known as Julia – it is a Byrnecut thing – to select customers at the Whipper Snapper distillery in East Perth.
Getting the truck to the site was not the easiest of operations and involved shutting down traffic.