Liebherr's Australian eight

IT ONLY launched its R 9600 hydraulic excavator in March but Liebherr is already talking about having eight of the 600t class machines operating in Australia by mid-2021.
Liebherr's Australian eight Liebherr's Australian eight Liebherr's Australian eight Liebherr's Australian eight Liebherr's Australian eight

A Liebherr R 9600 excavator at BHP's South Flank iron ore operation.

There are already two R 9600s operating in Australia. One is at BHP's South Flank iron ore mine in Western Australia's Pilbara and the other is at Coronado Global Resources' Thiess-operated Curragh North metallurgical coal mine in Queensland.

According to Liebherr, BHP plans to have another five R 9600s in operation at South Flank by June and an eighth machine will be going to a New South Wales coal mine in mid-2021.

Liebherr Australia mining division managing director Trent Wehr said Liebherr had worked with BHP for some time.

"Liebherr and BHP have strengthened our partnership over the past few years and these six pre-series R 9600 units sold into South Flank represents the success of our collaborative efforts," he said.

Australia is the largest market for Liebherr's 600t class excavators with more than 70% of its machines operating there - predominantly in iron ore and coal.

Since the mid-1990s serial release of the R 9600's predecessor, the R996, more than 115 of those machines have been sold in the country.

That is why Liebherr went to customers BHP and Thiess to put its R 9600 through its paces.

Thiess helped Liebherr develop the 800t class R 9800 - which the R 9600 is based on - in the 2000s.

Thiess' R 9600 will be used on a collaborative production study at Curragh North in April to validate its performance in a coal application.

A study intended to understand the performance gains from some of the operator assistance packages Liebherr has included in the R 9600 will also be conducted alongside that. It will look at the Bucket Filling Assistant, a combination of Anti-Stalling and Semi-Automatic Bucket filling functions.

Thiess executive general manager assets Anthony De Domenico said the introduction of that technology provided valuable maintenance data to increase machine performance and helped operators optimise payloads.