ERLAU TPC protects the tyres of a giant LeTourneau 1850 on load-out duties at Xstrata’s latest coal mine in Australia’s Hunter Valley.

In 2010, with a great fanfare, Xstrata celebrated the inception of the USD 1bn, 150 mt open-cut, Mangoola Coal Mine.

delivered 3 months ahead of schedule and USD 178m under budget and, now, fully operational, the mine is shipping coal either to Bayswater and Liddell power stations and to Far Eastern customers.

Four teams of earthmovers featuring Liebherr, CAT and LeTourneau supported by SKF drill rigs and CAT 773 Service Carts are bringing home the coal.

Delivered during September 2009, was the core unit of a LeTourneau, L1850 loader, six CAT 793s with a combined haul capacity of 1440 tons, a 16M Grader with a 4.9m mold board , a CAT D10 Dozer and a further 100 ton, CAT 777 Watercart.

Considered one of the most popular in LeTourneau’s loader line, the L-1850 is offered with a 30m³/ 54 t bucket as standard equipment.

Powered by a 1419 kW diesel engine, the L-1850 is designed to centre-load most haul trucks rated for payloads between 236 and 327 tonnes.

Mother Nature had no thought for the miner when she laid down the Mangoola deposits.

Concealed by 15-90m of sandstone conglomerate, the three 9-10 m coal seams are inter-bedded with 3-4 m thick, late-Permian, tuffaceous bands.

Tuff is is an unforgiving mixture of volcanic rock and mineral fragments in a volcanic ash matrix formed when a combination of ash, rock and pyroclastic or tephra mineral fragments were blasted into the air by volcanic action then fell to the ground as a mixed deposit.

The L1850 loader’s Michelin X-Mine D2 60/80-57 tyres are subject, not only to heavy abrasion from the sandstone and tuff but are also under constant threat of sidewall damage from the unpredictable content such as razor-sharp, unweathered shards of rock.

As the only wheeled loader on site, the Letourneau is far too valuable an asset to be standing idle for want of a tyre when it should be earning its keep loading trucks.

Given the current limited availability of giant earthmover tyres and high replacement costs, Mangoola has taken practical pre-emptive steps to save unnecessary expense and unwelcome delays in production.

From it’s arrival, new, in August 2010, Mangoola have protected the L-1850’s drive-wheel Michelins with a pair of ERLAU TPC FELS CROWN X22 tyre protection chains (TPCs).

Supplied, installed and supported by RUD Australia and manufactured by RUD Kettenfrabrik of Germany, the TPCs provide the all-round protection that keeps loaders, such as the the L-1850, operating to schedule.

The robust, tight-meshed, 22m, ribbed links of RUDs FELS CROWN encase the tyre, absorbing the abrasion which would, otherwise, in no time, powder the tread and, by deflecting sharp rock fragments, preventing sudden-death, side-wall penetration.

While an extended a new tyre’s life up to three times is a significant benefit, another big plus of owning RUD TPCs is seen in the guaranteed productivity through assured plant availability and a significantly reduced cost per delivered tonne.

Since, fitting the TPCs the L-1850’s has worked over 9000 hours without reporting any unscheduled workshop visits for tyre repairs or replacements.

Xstrata has become a world mining leader through judicious acquisition and development of assets including investment in top-quality plant and people.