Komatsu makes major commitment to hard rock mining in its centenary year

Komatsu has made a major commitment to Australia’s hard rock mining industry as miners seek operational efficiency in response to expected increases in international demand for precious minerals.

Komatsu Australia’s launch of a suite of four underground loaders and the infrastructure to support them comes after several years of research and occurs during its centenary year of service to the mining and construction industries.

While gold remains Australia’s primary hard rock resource, world automakers also are seeking reliable access to sophisticated metals for their move to vehicle-electrification, and Australia is at the forefront of supply.

It is the first time Komatsu Australia has entered the hard rock market with a concerted hard rock mining solution, believed to be the most dedicated program of its type in the local hard rock sector.  Komatsu does so with the unique challenges of the Australian hard rock mining segment at the forefront of their strategy.

Two high technology hybrid drive underground loaders, uniquely equipped with durable independent electric motors in each wheel, headline a substantial investment by Komatsu to provide a complete service solution to miners and contractors.

“Providing hard rock miners with reliable underground loaders is part of a broader understanding of the need to assist their overall productivity in the face of global competition,” said Joshua Foale, Product Manager Mining, Komatsu Australia.

More than 70 established Australian hard rock mines are likely to be joined by others as demand increases, increasing the need to achieve cost efficiencies as competitive pressures mount.

Komatsu will enter the hard rock mining sector with two large capacity technology-leading hybrid-electric loaders and two conventionally powered smaller machines designed for narrow vein operation.

The hybrid Komatsu WX22H and WX18H load haul dump (LHD) loaders each claim the lowest total operating costs in their class.

Komatsu’s analysis shows the conventionally powered Komatsu WX07, seven-tonne loader is 14% more productive than any other machine in its category. The WX04, four-tonne version offers 20% more breakout force in its class, based on published information.


Komatsu Hybrid loaders

Komatsu’s WX22H and smaller WX18H achieve up to 20% increase in tonnes moved compared to conventionally powered loaders, with up to 20% decrease in fuel costs, based on operating trials. An independent life cycle analysis identified a 30% reduction in operating costs.

Improved work cycle performance is achieved by use of high efficiency electric traction motors in each wheel, making conventional mechanical power drive redundant, resulting in substantial reductions in operating costs.

The Kinetic Energy Storage System (KESS) is at the heart of the switched reluctance hybrid drive which captures and reuses braking energy from each of the four wheels. Heat-energy generated when the machine stops abruptly at the dig face is captured by the bi-directional KESS loop instead of being lost to the atmosphere.

KESS stores and releases three megajoules of energy, supplementing power from the conventional diesel engine for greater acceleration to maximise cycle performance.

A smart traction system provides smoother acceleration and results in less tyre wear, and component degradation. It generates less inertia at each stop, significantly reducing potential damage to the drive train.

Fewer underground emissions, lower heat rejection and greater operator comfort are all intended benefits of the hybrid system.

Komatsu’s 22 tonne WX22H produces 320kW (429hp); the smaller WX18H produces 280 kw(375hp).

Both engines are rated to the strictest Euro V requirements for emission control. And both utilise the same KESS, capable of delivering 410kW (550hp), effectively doubling power delivery on demand.

Komatsu’s new seven-tonne and four-tonne narrow vein hard rock loaders

Komatsu has designed these machines for maximum productivity. The WX07 is the forerunner of a new breed of load haul dump loaders utilising improved chassis, power train and operator cabin environment.

Large capacity fuel tanks - 243 litres in the case of the WX07- allow longer operational cycles between refueling.

Cabin access, visibility and ergonomics have been optimised and critical service points have been placed at ground level to minimize the need for technicians to climb or use ladders to reach key areas.

A new more efficient bucket design enables greater penetration into a load pile for fast bucket filling.

The Komatsu WX04 delivers 97kW (130hp) and the WX07 delivers 160kW (215hp).

Rock solid construction

Komatsu’s range of hard rock mining machines establishes new standards of strength and durability.

“In developing our machines, we have been specific in providing protection for critical structural components, linkages and joints,” said Joshua Foale.

“Reliability has been a paramount consideration in the design of long-life moving parts,” he said.

“In the case of our Hybrid Drive (HD) machines, there are no commutators, brushes or rotor windings to replace, and our wiring systems are double insulated.

A replacement parts stock consistent with Komatsu’s well-respected service to customers across all industry and product sectors would provide assurance.