Modern Mining: Featured News

The first of two Cat 6030 BH hydraulic mining shovels has been commissioned by Barloworld Equipment for Tronox at its Namakwa Sands heavy minerals mine on the West Coast of South Africa. This follows close on the heels of another first for the mine, a Cat 777E off highway truck commissioned early this year.

The second 6030 BH hydraulic shovel will be delivered to Namakwa Sands in January 2019, while the 777E joins five 777F trucks already operating at the mine.

Barloworld Equipment’s Bellville team in Cape Town sold Anglo American the first Cat earthmoving machines at Namakwa Sands in 1994 when the mine started operations at Brand se Baai, 385 km north of Cape Town. These were a D400 water tanker, a 14G motor grader and an 824G wheel dozer.

Partnership based on continuous improvement

The 6030 BH hydraulicThe 6030 BH hydraulicmining shovel loads aCat 777F truck at NamakwaSands.

Tronox acquired the mine and beneficiating operations in 2012.

Namakwa Sands is now one of the largest mineral sand operations in the world. The partnership with Barloworld Equipment has grown from strength to strength, with 24 Cat machines owned by Tronox on site supported 24/7 by a Maintenance and Repair Contract (MARC).

Tronox also rents machines from Barloworld Equipment’s Cat Rental Store for specific requirements and currently has three rental machines, two Cat 745 articulated trucks and a Cat 980L wheel loader, on site.

Riaan Mouton, mining maintenance leader at Tronox, believes the success of the partnership between Tronox and Barloworld Equipment at Namakwa Sands is founded on open, honest communication, a shared high regard for health and safety, a strong drive to achieve performance targets and a desire to continuously improve.

Tronox mines and beneficiates heavy minerals at Namakwa Sands to produce titanium dioxide feedstock, zircon, rutile and high purity iron products used in many applications including pigments, metals, ceramics, and foundries.

The open-pit mine and concentration plants are located at Brand se Baai, where the ore is mined and processed. The concentrates are then transported 60 km to the mineral separation plant at Koekenaap, where the minerals are separated to produce zircon, rutile and ilmenite.

These products are railed to the smelter at Saldanha Bay where the ilmenite is processed in furnaces operated by Tronox to produce titanium dioxide slag and pig iron. The zircon and rutile are stored on site for export.

Namakwa Sands is one of almost 20 Tronox locations around the world.

Desigen Naicker, Barloworld Equipment sales manager for the Cape region, says the combination of site-appropriate products and around the clock back-up from Barloworld Equipment has kept the relationship with Namakwa Sands going strong for the past 24 years.


The formal MARC agreement between Tronox and Barloworld Equipment has been in place since 2003 and covers all maintenance and servicing of the fleet with the aim of minimising downtime and maximising productivity. Today the MARC team numbers almost 20 full time Barloworld Equipment employees based permanently on the mine.

As part of the MARC agreement, Tronox uses Cat Product Link and other mine specific technology provided by Caterpillar. Product Link enables remote monitoring of machine location, fuel usage and service metre hours, as well as critical system health to enable the Barloworld Equipment site team to maximise hours and avoid unscheduled downtime.

Cat Payload Systems is also used for efficient use of load and haul equipment and productivity monitoring.

“Barloworld Equipment is part of the Tronox family, with similar values,” says Mouton. “For us the success of the partnership is about dedication and commitment. The Barloworld technicians on site are seen as Tronox employees and treated with the same respect. They are involved in Tronox safety and cost initiatives.

“In return the Barloworld team goes beyond the line of responsibility and constantly provides relevant input, assists with problem solving and helps on the ground in other areas such as the apron feeder and conveyors on the mine,” Mouton explains.

The Cat fleet supported by the Barloworld Equipment MARC team includes graders, excavators and loaders, plus the first recently commissioned 6030 BH hydraulic mining shovel.

Cat 6030 BH hydraulic shovel

The 6030 BH was a breakthrough order for Barloworld Equipment and a break with tradition for Tronox, which has used competing shovels in the past. According to Rudi Prigge, Tronox reliability engineer: Mining at Namakwa Sands, the Cat machine was selected for competitive pricing and on comparative technical specifications, among other factors.

“Our first Cat 6030 BH has now been running for 300 hours,” says Prigge. “After some initial fine-tuning, the excavator is finding its tracks and getting into the swing of things. The cabin provides the operator with a comfortable seat and good visibility all round from the externally fitted cameras, making for a safe and easy way to break the earth and load our OHT fleet.

“We expect these shovels to consistently deliver reliable, cost effective tons to our production plants in demanding mining conditions over their lifetime,” he adds.

The 6030 BH is powered by two Cat C27 diesel engines producing 1 530 hp (1 140 kW) and Cat C95 GET with hammerless design makes for simplified removal and installation of bucket teeth.

Improving on its predecessor, the 6030, the Cat 6030 BH hydraulic mining shovel comes with an upgraded cab with advanced ergonomic design, superior visibility to the work area, and clear lines of sight to the stick and boom. Access walkways and hand rails were redesigned to enhance safety.

The shovels will be paired with the fleet of six 100-ton capacity Cat 777 trucks on the mine for fast and efficient ore loading and hauling. 

Cat 777E truck

Prigge says the mine is happy with the performance of its Cat 777 trucks, with corrosion and fatigue as the only issues affecting performance in the high hour machines. “These factors are managed by the Barloworld Equipment team as part of the overall maintenance plan for the fleet.”

The first new Cat 777E truck landed in South Africa in March 2017 and has been eagerly received by the market as the successor to the respected Cat 777D model, with several enhancements based on customer feedback around the world. These, together with a competitive price, prompted Tronox to add a 777E to its fleet.

“The new Cat 777E off-highway truck has operated for more than 3 000 hours on site, with reliable performance and value-adding safety features such as the LED load display that avoids overloading, as well as not being allowed to drive the truck without the safety belt engaged,” says Prigge. “It has been a favourite with the operators and has handled the tough site conditions well.”

The 777E is designed to provide lower cost per ton through improvements in productivity, fuel economy, durability and maintenance costs. It offers the highest payload and best safety features in its class, the same C32 ACERT technology engines as the F series, as well as other interchangeable components.

The more efficient design of the E series makes it seven tons lighter than competing trucks. Servicing is more convenient with engine oil changes extended from 250 to 500 hours and hydraulic filter life extended to 1 000 hours.

The Cat 777E also comes standard with technology to connect to Equipment Management Services for improved machine management and maintenance. This technology gives Barloworld Equipment customers the ability to listen to their machines and make decisions about maintenance, parts and operator training.

The cab interior and operator station have been redesigned to provide better visibility and comfort. Safety is prioritised with a new industry-leading four-point access system that is stronger and wider. Other safety features include joystick gearshift control with inbuilt parking brake control, delayed engine shutdown to allow system components to cool down, which also extends component life, and engine crank lock out to lock the engine and disable the starter during servicing.

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