Last month, on April, an avant-garde mining equipment for underground mines was introduced by Komatsu in El Teniente Division. The Load-Haul-Dump (LHD) unit will operate for the first time with a SR hybrid transmission, it does not have a gearbox nor mechanical actuated components, and uses diesel only for driving electricity generation.
The equipment, a HD LHD 18, will be used for loading, hauling, and dumping ore. Its hybrid quality not only allows it to save fuel, but also to increase productivity up to 20%.
“This innovative equipment offers cutting-edge technology to the underground mining field and will become the industry’s turning point. Due to its economy and efficiency features, we are sure it will have a beneficial impact on underground mining,” explains Francisco Rodríguez, Komatsu Chile’s Underground Mining Manager.
The equipment -working under normal operating conditions for the first time in history- accumulates braking power (not possible in mechanical units) and then uses it for loading and hauling operations up to18 tons.
This unit has a 400 HP diesel engine and a KESS system (Kinetic Energy Storage System) capable of storing 550 HP more, therefore, “it can generate the same power supplied by a 950 HP engine -nonexistent in this market- without power drops,” emphasizes Francisco Rodríguez.
By understanding what the industry needs, Komatsu can develop new products, services or characteristics to achieve these goals. This input is collected through direct contact with the operation, through service technicians, support engineers, and different people who interact with the customers. That information goes to factory, who uses it for its developing plans.
In this context, and considering its technical benefits, this equipment aims to develop “green copper”, highly regarded within the mining industry, especially in Codelco. Francisco Rodríguez reinforces this by indicating that “this equipment, besides reducing operational costs by using less fuel, allows to strengthen the “green copper” concept fostered by the mining industry with less emissions, especially in underground operations.”
This guideline was presented by Baldo Prokurica, the Chilean Minister of Mining, during the LHD launch, in an Electro Mobility activity held in El Teniente Division, on April the 24th.
In this event, the Chilean Government’s representative highlighted “our country’s commitment with the environment and global warming. Even when we do not generate as much greenhouse gases, we still want to be part of this fight against climate change.”