Self-made dump trucks cut China's iron ore costs

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 8, 2012
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The advent of four SF33901 electric wheel dump trucks arrayed at the port of Xiangtan City, Hunan Province, on May 31, eventually relieved China a bit from the embattled price negotiation of the imported iron ore.

Shipped to the world’s leading iron ore supplier Rio Tinto Group in Australia, the four giant trucks – weighed at 230 tons each – are capable of writing down China's costs on imported iron ores of up to 100,000 tons.


 The launching ceremony of SF33901

Yet it was only a prelude for the country’s heavy machinery manufacturers to step in the international mining arena. The next chapter is staged with a 400-ton off-highway electric wheel dump truck currently off the assemble line of MCC (Xiangtan) Heavy Industrial Equipment Co Ltd, also in Hunan Province. The mammoth machine again triggered the interest of miners from the land of Kangaroos – Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, the Australia’s third-largest iron ore producer, which signed its intended contract to introduce the giants into its mining fields.

The fledgling success ignited domestic heavy machinery producers' great ardor, with which companies like MCC planned to make more dump trucks in diversified weights and functions. When the assembly lines mature, the annual capacity for manufacturers like MCC could reach 200, while the machines are expected to garner at least 5 billion yuan (US$786 million) in revenue each year for the Hunan company.


HMTK 6000, the 400-ton off-highway dump truck, made in China

Compared with their foreign predecessors, such as the famous gigantic Caterpillar 797 or the flagship colossal TEREX MT 6300, both of which set off from the United States to trot around the world’s mining fields, the Chinese trucks are no less resilient when introduced to the overseas market. Take for example the SF33901, designed by the Xiangdian Heavy Equipment Co Ltd, a subsidiary to the 76-year-old Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group Co Ltd (XEMC) established in the booming era of Kuomintang-reigned Republic of China (1912-1949), in particular for the geology of the Australia’s mining grounds. Despite its low emission, powerful engines and a maximum capacity of 260 tons, equivalent to 145 cubic meters in size, the trucks are especially innovative with their maintenance amenities, including liquid control stairs, exam flats and foldable stairs.


The Caterpilla 797 

Although the patent SF33901 marked a great breakthrough in China’s heavy machinery industry for mining, there remains a technological vacuum waiting for global manufacturers to fill. To match the trucks whose sizes keep ballooning, the manufacturers are required to design appropriate electric loading shovels. Usually, the proportion between the capacities of the shovel and the truck is optimized at one third to one forth, in other words, a 400-ton haul truck would better be matched with the shovel with a maximum one-time loading capacity of 100 tons. Yet the criterion is hard to reach since most of the shovels that are currently in use.

Both the Ohio-based former Bucyrus International Inc, now part of the Caterpillar Inc. after an acquisition almost two years ago, and the Belarus based BelAZ, planned to produce the highly-powered haul trucks with colossal shovel capacities. Yet 10 years later, their ambition remains in designs.


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