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Cerrejón: New Cat trucks help mine keep costs low and productivity high

Cerrejón is one of the world’s largest surface coal mines, with six operating pits, thousands of employees and a large equipment fleet. That fleet now includes the first Cat® 794 AC trucks operating in Colombia.

In order to maintain profitability, the mine was looking for ways to control its operating costs while keeping productivity high. This effort led Cerrejón to consider a new truck model — and the results so far have been significant.

The Cat 794 trucks began making a positive impact as soon as they were put into operation, when compared to per-hour operating costs of mine’s existing electric-drive trucks in the same size class. “We estimate that running the Caterpillar trucks, in the first two years we can start lowering those costs,” says Juan Schettini, electric truck superintendent at Cerrejón.

The 794 also helps the mine reduce maintenance costs, thanks to design features that make the truck easy to service. “For example, there is plenty of room surrounding the engine, which makes it easier for the technicians,” says Schettini. “It’s also easier for a technician to replace any of the hoses or components. It’s a very good arrangement.”

In addition, the 794 AC features a brushless AC motor that powers the grid. It requires no regular maintenance, unlike machines that employ a DC motor, which requires two hours of maintenance to change the brushes.

The new trucks are also contributing to the mine’s high production goals. The Cat 794 has demonstrated a productivity advantage over other trucks thanks to a higher stall torque and a faster speed on grade. Oil-cooled wet disc brakes and more retarding power give operators more control and confidence, which leads to higher productivity.

Since its introduction, mechanical availability of the 794 has averaged 90 percent or better and continues to improve. “Even considering the conditions here, in our mine, I think we can achieve very, very good results in terms of availability and reliability,” says Schettini, who points out the truck’s robust design. “Caterpillar didn’t go cheap. It’s a heavy duty truck.”

Cerrejón’s Cat equipment — which includes the 794 trucks along with more than 115 Cat 793 trucks and 56 789 trucks — is supported in partnership with local Cat dealer RELIANZ Mining Solutions, which has a team of about 120 people on site.

“We need to do our best to keep our costs down, but at the same time keep efficiency high,” says Schettini, who believes having one supplier with bumper-to-bumper responsibility for the trucks will help the mine achieve that goal. “We are very glad to have RELIANZ working here with us,” he says.

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