Weighing as much as 162 elephants and able to fill 280 bathtubs with just one scoop of its bucket, Moolarben’s new Liebherr R 9800 excavator is the largest back-hoe style excavator available in the world.
At 10.34 metres high and 8.78 metres wide, the R 9800 is definitely at home on a mine site, but according to Liebherr technical support manager Matt Charley, once the R 9800 has been put to work in the pit, it doesn’t seem as big when it is amongst the rock.
With a 46 cubic metre bucket capable of holding around 75 tonnes of material, the 9800 will be able to fill the bed of a dump truck with rock or dirt in three passes – one less then the excavators currently in use at Moolarben.
“It can fill the dump truck in under one-and-a-half minutes,” Mr Charley said.
The German-built 800-tonne excavator began arriving in pieces in October.
Now that it is completed, it will go to work removing overburden in Moolarben’s open pit mine area.
“Logistically it’s been a bigger effort than normal as the Moolarben R 9800 is the first fully sound attenuated R 9800 in the world,” Moolarben Open Cut Mine Manager Bruce Birchall said.
“Typically build time for one of these machines is around six weeks but Moolarben’s has taken more than three months because of the non-standard sound attenuation equipment that has been added to the machine.”
Fitting sound attenuation is common across Moolarben’s fleet to reduce noise when operating.
Recent noise level testing of the R 9800 provided results compared to that of a standard machine (from 127 decibels down to 114 decibels).
This means the R 9800 will be able to operate even at night.
Mr Birchall said this demonstrated Moolarben’s continued efforts to minimise impacts on the community.
“This result, despite being a bigger machine, is even quieter than our current smaller sound attenuated R996s excavators,” he said.
Mr Birchall said current plans are for the R 9800 to go to work in several weeks, starting with operator training and maintenance training this month.
“Once we have a big enough base of operators trained up, it will go to work full time, replacing one of our current excavator’s duties from early March,” he said.
The employee open day last Saturday was an opportunity for employees to bring their families along and show them both the immense size of the 9800 before it goes to work, as well as the other machines that dominate the space where their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and siblings work.