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Letting the Cat out in Africa

Mining companies in southern Africa are increasing demand for Caterpillar drilling rigs.

“The rigs are making an impact on the southern African market, where 12 orders for the drilling machines have been received,” Caterpillar sales manager for surface mining in southern Africa Grant Francis said.

The first three rigs, each with a mass of 131t, were delivered to Anglo American’s Sishen iron-ore mine at Kathu, in the Northern Cape, where the results from drilling into the hard hematite deposits prompted Kolomela mine to place an order for another five. Two of the machines are diesel powered and the third is electric.

The MD6540 series of blasthole drill rigs ordered by Kumba Iron Ore produce a bit load of up to 54t and drill 17m single-pass blastholes, 311mm in diameter at the Sishen mine.

“The introduction of the Caterpillar blasthole machines to the iron-ore mine at Sishen has been a great success. It was something that we worked hard to achieve through our machine service and support, on-site commissioning and training, as well as ongoing backup.

“Caterpillar in the US assembled and dispatched special teams to site for a period of 10 months to ensure that the assembly and commissioning of the machines, as well as the training of the maintenance and operator crews, were world class. Two Caterpillar service technicians and a dedicated accounts manager are also on site permanently,” Mr Francis added.

The MD6540’s cab is all-electric and has no hydraulic lines entering into it or the control panels. The machine is designed with an auto drill, auto level and on-board drill-health and drill-performance monitoring system, which includes diagnostics and a downloadable memory function.

Levelling the jacks and raising and lowering the mast are oper­ated by electric-over-hydraulic levers on the control panel.

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