Breakout at Burton

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Mining

4,000 hp R9800 is the biggest hydraulic excavator ever developed by Liebherr.


One of the biggest hydraulic excavators in the world, Liebherr’s 4,000 hp R9800 is muscling up at the Burton coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

The biggest hydraulic excavator ever developed by Liebherr, the R9800 is an 800-tonne machine powered by dual 2,000 hp Cummins QSK60 engines.

With 10,000 litres of hydraulic fluid circulating in its veins, the giant Liebherr generates immense breakout force while achieving rapid loading cycles.

At Peabody Energy’s Burton coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, two R9800s are tackling overburden in an extension project valued in excess of $1 billion which began in September 2010.

The project is being carried out by Thiess and will extend the life of the mine to 2016.

The oldest R9800 at Burton – the first in service in the world – had clocked up close to 9,000 hours by the end of June.

Thiess started operations at Burton in 1996 and has mined around 50 million tonnes of hard coking coal and thermal coal from various pits within the 45 km project site.

The coal has been mined for export to a number of international markets including Asia, Europe, India and South America.

Cummins Mackay branch manager Chris Bugeja (left) with Thiess maintenance superintendent for excavators Mark Haynes (centre) and Cummins mining business manager Stewart McKeddie.

The new project will allow Thiess to maintain Burton’s annual production capacity in excess of 4 million tonnes of coal per annum.

The high quality coal will be mined to a depth of up to 240 metres, making Burton the deepest open-cut operation in the Bowen Basin.

Configured as backhoe excavators, the two R9800s at Burton are fitted with 45 cubic metre buckets and load around 75 tonnes of dirt in one pass.

 The dual Cummins QSK60 engines powering the hydraulics system on the R9800 are Tier 2 emissions compliant – the lowest regulated emissions in the world for off-highway engines over 560 kW (751 hp).

The engines’ total output of 4,000 hp at 1800 rpm is backed up by enormous peak torque of 14,500 lb ft at 1500 rpm.

“We haven’t had an issue of note with the Tier 2 QSK60 engines,” says Mark Haynes, Thiess Maintenance Superintendent for excavators at the Burton mine.

“In fact, our Cummins engines in general aren’t an issue for us, and we get very good support from Cummins Mackay.”

The R9800s spearhead a fleet of excavators at Burton that is one of the biggest in Australia at a single mine site.

The nine-strong fleet includes four Liebherr R996s, a Liebherr R994, a Hitachi EX5500, and a Komatsu PC1250.

The four 996 machines are powered by dual 1,500 hp Cummins K1800E engines, while the 994 has a Cummins KTTA 38. The Hitachi EX5500 is powered by dual 1,350 hp Cummins QSK45s.

“With only a couple of exceptions, our engines have gone the full life of 16,000 hours,” says Mark Haynes.


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