Peak Gold Mines in Cobar, New South Wales, is using Isuzu trucks underground to move men and equipment.
As part of its fleet, the mine runs seven Isuzu trucks; four of which are used underground transporting men, equipment and explosives to service the copper and gold mine’s 24-hour-a-day operation.
Located approximately 700 kilometres north-west of Sydney, Cobar is a famous old mining town.
Found just a short eight kilometre drive south from the town centre, Peak Gold Mines employs 340 staff on site and has a seven year mine life, up to 2018.
To keep its around-the-clock schedule, Peak Gold Mines relies on a range of reliable equipment, including modern development jumbo boom drills, load-haul-dump loaders, and a total of 55 trucks and utility support vehicles.
According to Mobile Maintenance Planner, Ben Trudgett, the Isuzus easily cope with the rock road bases and 1:6 gradient in the decline mine.
Mr Trudgett said two of the company’s Isuzu trucks were registered, with the remaining five unregistered.
“Our Isuzu NLS 200 crew cab is used underground by the Mobile Maintenance Team. It also transports the team to other workshops,” he said.
“We also have four FTS 750 Isuzu trucks, which are used as stores trucks. One of these is a registered truck and is used for town store runs. The other three are unregistered and are mainly used underground.
“Our fleet also includes two FTS 800 4x4s – one is a fuel truck and the other an explosives truck.”
Mr Trudgett said both the FTS 800 4×4 fuel truck and explosives truck required some extra body work to fit the mine’s application.
“The fuel truck has a double skin road transport fuel body, which is capable of carrying 7,000 litres. This body was purpose built for safety and practicality,” he said.
“The explosives truck has a reinforced headboard for additional safety of operators.
“All of the other Isuzu trucks are as built and simply have tray bodies.”
As the Peak Gold Mines operate constantly, the trucks are used on a daily basis.
“The registered stores truck does two runs into town Monday to Friday. The other registered truck is utilised 24/7 to transport logistics in the underground workings,” Mr Trudgett said.
“The explosives truck is also used every day by the charge-up crews.”
According to Mr Trudgett, not everybody can take the trucks underground.
“Any operator who is ‘ticketed’ to operate the trucks can drive them. We have our own in house trainers who train and accredit each operator who is competent to operate the machines in the mine,” he said.
“Apart from the registered stores truck, all other Isuzu trucks go into the mine. The conditions are harsh, the roads are rock base with a 1:6 decline. However the Isuzu trucks have no issues with the conditions – they do everything that we ask of them, and sometimes more.”
Mr Trudgett said he believes the most favourable features of the Isuzu trucks are their reliability and operator comfort.
“The Isuzus offer more than enough power. They have no trouble driving up steep declines at about 20km/h when they are loaded,” he said.
“We chose to purchase Isuzu trucks because they offer a fleet of standard service trucks that meet our specification and the product’s reliability is fantastic. We also can’t go past the back-up parts and service from the Isuzu Dealership, Tracserv in Dubbo – we have had very good experiences with them.”
Peak Gold Mines replaces trucks on an as-needs basis, based on their condition, age and life hours.
“We select the best truck that suits the application required. We purchased one of our underground stores trucks in 2000 and the other two in 2008; we purchased our above ground stores truck in 2005. The explosives truck, fuel truck and NLS 200 crew cab were all added to our fleet in 2011,” Mr Trudgett said.
“We would definitely consider purchasing more Isuzu trucks when we require replacement vehicles. We have a good relationship with Tracserv and the trucks’ reliability and performance in the mine are unsurpassed.”
Two mining fields are run from the Peak Gold Mines site, one hosting a processing plant and administration buildings.
Peak Gold Mines is operated by Peak Gold Mines Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Canadian company, New Gold Incorporated. It commenced production in 1992.