Epiroc, the leading global productivity partner for the mining industry, has chartered one of the world’s largest cargo planes to ensure it does not hold up a key client’s Pilbara iron ore activities in Western Australia.
Faced with a tight deadline to deliver two 22.5m long and 21,000kg heavy Pit Viper 271 rotary blasthole rig towers from their manufacturing facility in Garland (Texas, US) to the Pilbara 17,000km away, Epiroc decided to charter the Antonov An-124 to deliver its vital cargo.
The An-124 touched down at Perth international Airport at 6.30am on Monday. Once unloaded and secured on to low-loader trucks, the two PV271 towers were taken to Epiroc’s Reid Road facility near Perth International Airport for preparation for their final journey – on road – to Epiroc’s Newman customer service centre in the Pilbara, about 1500km north-east of Perth.
The world-class Pilbara iron ore province is one of Epiroc’s most important customer centres, with more than 150 of its industry-leading Pit Viper blasthole rigs in use by the sector’s key participants.
Epiroc’s commitment to industry-leading innovation means that more than 20 of the PV271 rigs in the Pilbara are now operating as autonomous rigs.
Danny Moore, National Sales Manager Parts and Service at Epiroc Australia, said:
“Epiroc was faced with a situation where time was of the essence and the traditional route to deliver these Pit Viper masts from the Garland facility in the US to the Pilbara, via sea transport, was no longer an option.
“Although the cost of chartering the Antonov 124, one of the world’s largest heavy haul cargo planes, is significant, it was a cost we were comfortable to bear because customer service had to come first. This approach is reflected in Epiroc’s vision of being united in performance, inspired by innovation.
“We look forward to the PV271 towers arriving at Newman so we can carry out the mid-life rig rebuilds as part of our commitment to ensure that our customers at all times have well-maintained and safe equipment.
“It is quite clear to us that momentum and confidence are returning to the West Australian resources sectors after a few tough years.
“That makes it even more important for us to ensure we do not hold up our clients’ work, and continue our pursuit to be the mining sector’s leading global productivity partner through our speed of innovation, passionate people and leadership in automation.”
The Antonov An-124 is not your ordinary plane. With a payload of up to 120,000kg or 120 tonnes, it is known for its unique cargo capacity and proven high performance. In terms of carrying capacity, the An-124 is only pipped by the its slightly larger sibling, the An-225 – which can carry up to 250 tonnes of cargo and celebrated its maiden voyage to Perth in 2016 – and Boeing’s 747-8F.
After taking off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston, US) on Thursday, the An-124 and its two-tower cargo had stopovers in Honolulu, Nadi and Brisbane before flying into Perth this morning.
The rigs began autonomous conversion in March 2016, with the last of this series coming into full autonomous production early 2018 – and have shown increased productivity through a mix of greater consistency, less downtime and greater reliability.
A number of major miners are in the process of reviewing the automation capabilities of their current fleets, with Epiroc’s automation experience and multi-compatible software offering being evaluated and trialled both in Australia and overseas.
Epiroc employs more than 12,000 people in over 150 countries around the globe. In Australia, the company has more than 500 employees – with more than two thirds employed in service roles. Epiroc Australia has more than 16 customer service centres nationally, and parts distribution centres on both the west and east coasts.
Epiroc’s equipment includes surface, underground and exploration drilling and LHD equipment, spray creteing and hydraulic attachments.