The Tete province holds one of the world’s largest untapped carbon reserves, particularly for coking coal. Vale obtained a concession in 2006 to build and operate the mine at Moatize, with operations and then production starting in 2008 and 2011 respectively. The Brazilian company is the second largest metals and mining company, and one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world. It has announced plans to invest $15-20billion in Africa between 2010 and 2015, including a $6billion expansion of Moatize to double output to 22million tonnes per year.
The Moatize coal reserve is 954million tonnes and its life expectancy is 35 years. The mining method is an open pit through sequential layers using excavators, wheel loaders and rigid dump trucks. With vast quantities of overburden to be removed and dumped in designated piles, and layers of coal to be collected and transported to the primary crusher, Vale has invested heavily in its mining equipment. The line-up includes the two EX8000-6s (with 43m3 coal buckets) and three EX5500-6s (34m3). The machines are subjected to one of Africa’s harshest environments, where temperatures exceed 50°C, and they come with a bespoke after-sales support package to meet Vale’s requirements.
“Vale knows the level of equipment required to start operations at the mine and have knowledge of the availability and support for other equipment that we are using around the world,” says Mário Carpegiane, Vale’s Maintenance Supervisor at Moatize. “Hitachi has a good reputation and is renowned for continuously developing its mining equipment.” After one year of production, Mário has nothing but positive feedback about the first two EX5500-6s. The availability was excellent and the quality of service and support had exceeded expectations. On this basis, it was decided that Vale would continue to operate Hitachi excavators at Moatize, so another EX5500-6 and the two EX8000-6s were ordered to assist with the expansion of production.
“The high level of on-site support is an extremely important aspect of operating Hitachi excavators,” adds Mário. “The conditions in Mozambique are so tough that the maintenance and service are crucial to our operation. Mario continued, “Hitachi supplies the parts and service for the excavators. As Mozambique doesn’t have a good infrastructure or people with the required experience and expertise, this places even more emphasis on the relationship with the manufacturer. If we didn’t have a good system in place with Hitachi, then it would be very difficult to maintain our production levels".
“The availability of both models has been excellent as a result of this support. The interface with the Hitachi team is second to none and we enjoy a good level of communication. Also, if you compare Hitachi models with other excavators, the design and layout are good, which is especially useful for replacing parts and general maintenance.”