The Paracatu gold mine in Brazil is a large-scale open pit mine that employs 1,200 workers in an enterprise that is projected to continue for another 15 years.
Kinross Gold Corporation utilizes four shifts of workers that work around the clock to yield more than 500,000 ounces of gold annually.
With 70 pieces of heavy equipment operating continuously in a dry, arid climate with powder-like soil conditions, controlling dust is essential—not only for safety, but to protect residents of the surrounding community.
“The environmental challenge that we face here is to control the dust, noise and vibration that come from the explosives during the blasting activity,” says Claudio Freire, mining operations manager for Kinross.
In 2013, Kinross chose the Cat® 777G Off-Highway Truck Bare Chassis factory-installed with an innovative Cat Water Delivery System (WDS). One of the main benefits of the system is the ability to vary and precisely control the amount of water sprayed to the ground at varying ground speeds.
“With the possibility to use one big piece of equipment, where we can have one kind of technology that we can use to improve our performance, that is the best solution that we are looking for,” Freire says.
“And we have experienced very good performance using the Cat Water Delivery System,” Freire says. “With this truck, it’s possible to increase or reduce the volume of water that we apply.”
Reduced fuel consumption and more efficient application of water are the main advantages of the integrated water delivery system over the lower-capacity, on-highway water trucks also used at the mine.
“After we started with the Cat 777G Off-Highway Truck with the integrated Cat WDS, we increased our performance in the amount of water applied during the day,” Freire says. “We also have less fuel consumption.
“With one of the Cat 777G Off-Highway Trucks configured as a water truck with the Cat WDS, it’s possible to replace three small trucks.”
The Cat WDS is easy to operate, employing a cab-mounted control panel and rear-view camera that enable the operator to monitor water distribution.
A cab-mounted monitor and two cameras enables the operator to position the truck at the fill station without the need to exit the cab. To refill the water tank, a control screen inside the cab is utilized, and the system transmits a signal to automatically shut off the fill station when the tank reaches its programmed capacity.
A front-mounted water cannon is useful for multiple tasks, including spraying material blasted from mine wall faces, spraying material as it is pushed to loading areas by dozers, and watering the mine floor in truck loading areas.
The water cannon is operated by a joystick that enables operators to easily direct and adjust the spray flow width.
Kinross equipment operator Uberto Parra says the Cat WDS is easy to operate.
“The water truck is ergonomic—it’s easy to use and access,” Parra says. “It’s efficient, drive-ability is good, and we do not have to stop to change settings compared to the on-highway water truck, where we have to stop to change the spray or turn the pumps on or off.”
“It’s easy to use the water cannon,” Parra adds, “and the intermittent setting is easy to use on loading ramps. With 30 minutes of training, the operator can go out and work effectively.”
The Cat WDS operates 20 hours per day at the Paracatu mine, and has required minimal maintenance. Corrosion-resistant, stainless steel spray heads are maintenance free.
“The good performance that we got from the Cat WDS is aided by the size of the equipment, and the volume of water that we can apply,” Freire says of the 20,000-gallon tank, which requires less frequent fillups than its smaller on-highway counterparts.
Safety inside the mine is also greatly enhanced, as the Cat WDS enables operators to apply water with greater precision to haul roads and ramps throughout the mine. Overwatering is also prevented.
“Our operators can reduce or increase the amount of water as conditions dictate,” Freire says. “This means we can reduce the risk of operations for other equipment that we use in this operation.”
Working in partnership with its Cat dealer, Sotreq, Kinross is planning on acquiring additional Cat 777G Off-Highway Truck Bare Chassis with the fully integrated Cat WDS to be configured as water trucks to further improve efficiencies at the Paracatu mine.
“Having this Caterpillar alliance is very important for the overall performance of our mining operation,” Freire says. “The most important thing is to choose a technology that is different from the other equipment that we used in the past. And the technology in the Cat WDS provides us with safer conditions than we have had in the past.”