Earthmoving News

Cat R2900 XE Underground Loader boosts operations in WA

underground loader

Cat equipment provider WesTrac will put a new diesel-electric underground loader to work at Westgold Resources’ Midwest WA operations in a world first. 

Westgold recently purchased the new Cat R2900 XE Underground Loader to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability at its Starlight Mine. 

This is the first delivery for the Cat R2900 XE in the world. The machine will be available to the broader Australian market in early 2023. 

Among the promised benefits, Caterpillar said the diesel-electric combination offers greater than 31 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency, with reduced maintenance costs and greater productivity compared to earlier models. 

“The company has quietly piloted then commercialised innovative solutions for many years in our underground mines and acquiring the new R2900 XE continues this approach,” Westgold Managing Director Wayne Bramwell said. 

Like most Australian miners, ESG was an essential and growing aspect of Westgold’s business. 

“Our approach in this area is to look for step changes that can reduce our diesel consumption and emissions,” Bramwell said. 

“Continually updating our extensive mobile fleet with the latest lower emission and higher efficiency equipment allows us to achieve multiple benefits at once.” 

The company approached being the world’s first Cat R2900 XE user as a natural progression as it builds on its fleet of 18 of the R2900 XE’s predecessor, the Cat R2900G loaders. 

“The R2900 XE is built on the Caterpillar platform, and the Cat R2900G is a proven performer,” Westgold COO Phillip Wilding said.  

“Our Bryah and Murchison operations are several hundred kilometres from a service centre, so we need equipment that we know is robust and reliable, and Caterpillar ticks those boxes.” 

As well as the reported fuel efficiency gains, the Cat R2900 XE delivers greater than 35 per cent improvement in breakout force, an increased total payload of 18.5 tonnes and more than 50 per cent acceleration improvement in the 0-20kmh range compared to the Cat R2900G. 

The Cat R2900 XE was the result of ongoing requirements from customers and industry for cleaner but more productive equipment that reduced total cost of ownership. 

“When it comes to improving equipment sustainability, and particularly in underground mining applications, Caterpillar has to consider reducing machine emissions including exhaust, heat and noise, while ensuring improvements in safety and productivity,” Caterpillar Product Application Specialist Gordon Wilkin said. 

“We’re also always innovating to offer more towards reduction in operator fatigue, reducing maintenance requirements and automating functions to reduce total cost of ownership. Caterpillar is continuing to develop and extend the range of electric drive equipment as a way to address a lot of those requirements.” 

WesTrac Executive General Manager of Sales, Geoff Bailey said it was exciting to see the world-first collaboration taking place in WA. 

“The fact we are rolling out the world’s first Cat R2900 XE to go into production with Westgold, which is a mid-tier WA gold miner, highlights a number of things,” he said. 

“Firstly, the WA mining sector is the most innovative in the world and will readily adopt new technologies if there’s sustainability and productivity gains to be realised. And secondly, that innovation and first production use isn’t just the domain of the larger operators. As a mid-sized owner-operator, Westgold has multiple operations that will certainly see the Cat R2900 XE being put through its paces.” 

The machine will be thoroughly tested in both stoping and caving applications. 

The Cat R2900 XE Underground Loader is headed initially to Westgold’s Fortnum Gold Operation, 150km north-west of Meekatharra, for use at the Starlight underground mine. 

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