The harder you work, the more you produce and that’s certainly true for the crews at Lake Shore Gold’s Bell Creek mine near Timmins, Ontario, where miners at the gold site have beefed up production thanks to the addition of some new and improved equipment.
As the saying goes, the right tools can make all the difference and that’s exactly what’s happening at Bell Creek now that Lake Shore Gold is using the first three Atlas Copco Minetruck MT42s off the production line.
LSG Executive Vice-president Brian Hagan said the company had no reservations about taking the first trucks off the line because of LSG’s long-standing relationship with the manufacturer. “We were aware of the MT42 from the beginning and followed it throughout development. We were first in line for it.”
Lake Shore Gold produces roughly 500 tonnes of gold ore a day from Bell Creek’s 500-metre-deep, narrow vein operation. In addition, the company is heavily focused at present on advanced exploration to prove out the 1.2-million-ounce resource as quickly as possible.
“We had talked a couple years earlier that it would be nice if we could combine the size of the MT436 with the larger capacity and speed of a 50 tonner. It’s as if Atlas Copco heard us talking,”
Although Bell Creek could accommodate 50-tonne mine trucks, Hagan said the larger units would be more difficult to manoeuvre in the mine than the Minetruck MT42s. The MT42s are rated for a payload 10 tonnes larger. Their 520 hp Cummins engine powers them up the ramp at more than twice the speed of a MT436, climbing out at 8 kph compared to the MT436s’ 3.5 kph.
Hagan says other MT42 advantages include greater visibility, shorter turning radius, engine brakes, an enclosed cab, a jump seat for a passenger or trainer, and an air-suspended driver seat that greatly improves operator comfort.
Jason Pilcz, one of the MT42 drivers at Bell Creek, said that in the MT42, “shifts don’t seem as long as they used to. There’s no bouncing around and the cab’s dry, temperature- controlled environment limits the driver’s noise level to 80 decibels or less.”
At Bell Creek, the new trucks are averaging 35 to 38 tonnes per trip. Working two, 10 ½ hour shifts in a 24-hour period, the mine has been hauling up to 1,800 tonnes of and waste per day.
Bell Creek Maintenance Supervisor Paul Meunier said that although the trucks run at least 18 hours a day, they have required no significant downtime since their arrival. Maintenance is easy and straightforward, minimizing planned downtime. Meunier says the trucks’ operational availability is greater than 90 per cent.
The first two units had accumulated more than 2,800 hours in their first six months of operation and the third had over 1,700 hours.
In addition to the three MT42s, the company also operates one MT436 at Bell Creek, an ST14, three ST1030s, three ST2Gs, two Boomer 282s and two Boomer 104s.