Terex Trucks trek to Russia

Delivering four 91 tonne TR100 rigid haulers from Scotland to Russia for diamond giant, ALROSA, is no mean feat – and that’s before embarking on an epic, 5,543 miles (8,920 km) sub-zero adventure to Russia’s frigid Far East.
With prices perennially high, miners love diamonds even more than girls do. But the little gems wouldn’t be special if they were easy to find. If you consider that a one carat diamond is no bigger than the eraser on the end of a pencil – and most diamonds are smaller than one carat – discovering them among tonnes of material (known as kimberlite) isn’t easy. In fact, ALROSA, the world-leader in diamond mining, only finds a little over one carat of diamond – weighing a tiny 200 mg – per tonne of kimberlite moved. Considering ALROSA unearthed 32 million carats worth of diamonds last year, that adds up to a lot of earthmoving.
Tough jobs require tough machines, and the four TR100 rigid dump trucks that have been operating on site for the past three years have impressed so much that ALROSA has recently ordered four more for use at its rapidly growing Nyurba mine on the banks of the Vilyuy River in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic. Established in 2000 to develop the large deposits of the ore field, the vast mine generates revenues of half a billion dollars annually.
Having secured the order for four TR100s, the biggest challenge for Terex Trucks was to deliver the machines to one of the most remote of places – 5,543 miles (8920 km) from Moscow.
Motherwell to St. Petersburg – 2,179 miles
Painted in ALROSA’s corporate livery of yellow, the TR100s were then fitted with a number of ‘winter’ options – and if ever haulers needed cold weather protection it’s these ones. With temperatures in the Nyurba region dipping to a record low of -71oC (in 1926), this is one of the harshest environments for man and machine on the planet. The winter options include cold weather engine protection, additional cabin heating, special low temperature hydraulic oil and lubrication, more lights and a stronger alternator to power it all. Once completed, the Terex Trucks production team disassembled the trucks into kit form at the company’s Motherwell factory, in preparation for them to be transported across the globe in three sections. Packed into crates the kits were then shipped to the Russian port of St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg to Nyurba – 5,543 miles
Once offloaded from the ship at St. Petersburg the machines began the epic 5,543 mile (8,920 km) journey across this vast country. First the kits were loaded onto freight trains and taken by rail for over 1,000 miles (1,610 km) to Chelyabinsk, and then onto Ust-Kut. Here the kits were transferred onto a fleet of special on-highway trucks (each hauler needed four trucks to transport) and taken a further 500 miles (805 km) to ALROSA’s Udachny Mine. Workshop facilities here allowed ALROSA’s experienced technicians – assisted by Terex Trucks experts – to assemble the haulers. While the trucks were assembled the three elements of the payload body were expertly welded together and fitted to the machines. Each truck took a week to build.
The machines were then given a pre-delivery inspection and approved as fit for purpose by ALROSA.
The final leg of the journey – a mere 186 miles (300 km) – took four days, with the rigid haulers driving along ice roads cut through the forest to the mine site.
“We ran into some difficulties along the way,” laughs Alexander Bonev, director of Mining Eurasia, Terex Trucks’ dealer in Russia. “The main problem was that the winter roads had begun to thaw and were too soft. At that time in April there is normally three more weeks of severe cold, but not this year. Even with the Terex Trucks’ go-anywhere driveability it was still a challenge to get the dump trucks through safely.”
But get to the mine safely they did and the four TR100s are now working three shifts, 22 hours a day, seven days a week. Winters here are long and extremely cold, the coldest in the northern hemisphere. With average temperatures around -47oC in winter, and with the area experiencing some of the lowest natural temperatures ever recorded (as low as -71oC), it is necessary for the machines to run literally non-stop, as in severe low temperatures it is better to keep the engine running constantly, only stopping them for maintenance. Supported and maintained by a team of seven mechanics supplied by Mining Eurasia, ALROSA is continuing to be impressed by the reliability and fuel efficiency of Terex Trucks hardy workhorses.
The TR100s really are the diamonds in the rough.