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Round Mountain Strikes Gold With Cat Truck Fleet

Sat December 02, 2000 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide


The Round Mountain Gold Smoky Valley Common operation in central Nevada is one of the largest open-pit, heap-leaching gold mines in the world. The mine now moves about 300,000 tons (270,000 t) of material each day with a fleet of Caterpillar trucks — some of which have powered through as many as 98,192 operating hours.

But the mine wasn’t always big and successful. The remotely located operation grew by overcoming the obstacles created by being 180 mi. (289.7 km) from the nearest major supply point and by solving the problems presented by a lack of skilled personnel in the sparsely populated area. One of the key steps that Round Mountain managers took to pin down costs and relieve the need for additional maintenance technicians was to establish an innovative truck support agreement with Caterpillar Inc. and the regional Caterpillar dealer, Cashman Equipment Co., based in Northern Las Vegas.

In 1987, when the mine underwent expansion, Round Mountain established with Cashman Equipment and Caterpillar a truck maintenance contract that included guaranteed availability of the trucks. During 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990 the mine purchased a total of 15 new Cat 785 trucks, each with a capacity of 150 tons (136 t). Cashman Equipment, Caterpillar and Round Mountain developed a contract that required Cashman Equipment to repair the 785s and guarantee the percentage of availability. In addition, repair cost was fixed at a set rate per operating hour and the mine retained responsibility for preventive maintenance. The initial contract was for 25,000 hours or four years, and Cashman Equipment set up shop at the mine to repair trucks armed with a spare parts inventory.

A spirit of innovation, establishing and following procedures, and cooperation from everyone involved proved to be the cornerstones of success for the initial truck support contract and for contracts that continue to this day. Proof of results is displayed at MINExpo in the form of a Round Mountain Gold 785 truck purchased in 1986 and included in the original maintenance contract. It has accumulated 98,192 operating hours, has operated an average of 6,928 hours per year to date, and will go back to work at Round Mountain Gold after MINExpo concludes.

Perhaps more important than the longevity of the 785 is the low cost per ton hauled that the 785s have achieved at Round Mountain Gold. Caterpillar managers specifically attribute truck longevity and low truck cost to a number of factors including: adherence to preventive maintenance schedules and practices, open communication and cooperation between Round Mountain managers, Caterpillar personnel and Cashman Equipment personnel, which results in quick action to resolve small problems before they become larger and operator training that helps ensure efficient truck operation.

Cashman Equipment plays a critical role in keeping costs down by selecting the most cost-effective option when dealing with truck components: repair, use remanufactured replacements, rebuild or buy new.

Another important factor is the original design of the 785, which was introduced in 1985 as the first mechanical-drive rigid-frame hauler with a capacity of 150 tons (136 t). Steve Mueller, who recently retired from the position of general manager of Round Mountain Gold Co., said, “The record of performance of the 785s at Round Mountain is due to a few basic factors: durability, reliability and excellent support from Cashman Equipment. The 785 is just a good truck for Round Mountain Gold.”

For more information, call 309/675-8995.




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