The clean up
A disaster of this scale has never before been dealt with in the mining industry, and required an innovative approach to deal with the clean up.
The safety of Rio Tinto’s employees was of utmost importance to the mining operation, and dozer operators could not safely work in the slip area.
However, while the clearing of the 98 million cubic metres of rock and dirt was an unprecedented challenge for the mine – remote control of their dozers was the logical option.
This is where an Australian development on mining dozers was put in place, and through the clever technology developed by Australian company Remote Control Technologies and installed on their Cat dozers supplied by Wheeler Machinery Rio was able to start dealing with the aftermath of the landslip. RCT was able to design and manufacture three dozer remote interfaces and four remote kits to suit the Caterpillar D8T dozers used at the mine site together with spare remotes and support parts, prepare the necessary documentation and ship the equipment, all in a very small time frame.
According to RCT’s managing director, Bob Muirhead, it took a “whatever it takes” approach, pushing the company to reduce its normal deployment lead time from ten weeks to just three, to deliver a remote control solution to the disaster struck mine.
It seems incomprehensible that the WA company was faster to react than some local suppliers, but according to Wheeler, who provided the remote dozers for the mining project, RCT was both faster to react and had better technical support.
Once on site, installation, commissioning and training were completed in three weeks by the two man RCT team, equipping Wheeler and the mining company’s dozer operators with the skills necessary to clear the landslide in the safest manner possible so they could resume normal mining operations and staff could get back to their work.
“It was easy to work with the RCT team, the implementation went seamlessly and they were keen to share their knowledge and experience during the training, making us feel confident with the operation of the equipment,” Wheeler Construction and Mining Technology’s general manager, Greg Evans, said.