In South Dakota’s Black Hills, Coeur Mining operates the Wharf gold mine — a short-life operation where a large capital outlay for mining equipment didn’t make economic sense. So rather than buy a fleet of new machines to handle production duties on the mine, Coeur partnered with Cat® dealer Butler Machinery for a turnkey rental solution that includes a fleet of machines, maintenance support, and on-site technicians who complement the Wharf workforce.
Coeur Mining’s 20-year relationship with Butler includes several power-by-the-hour contracts that provide access to the dealer’s rental fleet. “With that we supply machinery as well as technical expertise with our on-site technicians helping maintain the fleet as well as Wharf’s fleet of machinery,” says Butler account manager Beau Riopel.
With a rental solution, the only variable costs to the mine are operator expenses and fuel. Maintenance is scheduled to have the least possible impact on production, and having necessary parts on site cuts unnecessary downtime. Rental contracts like the one at Wharf are tailored to individual site needs.
“With our short mine life, we could never really justify a large capital investment on equipment,” says Ken Nelson, general manager of Coeur Wharf mine. “The rental pricing that Butler came back to us with and maintained over the years made it very feasible for us to rent this equipment.”
A key component of the contract includes all the planned maintenance activities, including removing and rebuilding components to ensure high-hour machines deliver the availability the mine needs for production. The Butler team also supports the mine’s own fleet.
“We don’t consider them a separate workforce. They’re here every day alongside of our guys,” says Tony Auld, Wharf mine operations manager. “They’re a source of expertise when we need it.”