Case study shows how advanced haulers are excelling at Indonesian nickel mine.
When the mineral you’re helping to excavate is notoriously indestructible, you need the right, robust and reliable hauler to assist in its procurement. Enter the Rokbak RA40.
On an island on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, 2000km north-east of Java, a trio of Rokbak RA40s operate across a 45,065-hectare mining site. At this remote location in North Maluku, Indonesia, the Rokbak articulated haulers operate up and down steep inclines, through mud, dirt, grit and gravel, for close to 24 hours a day, and all in 30°C heat and at the mercy of the Southeast Asian elements.
Required to move around 450 tonnes of biomass and quarry materials in a single day, each RA40 will record approximately 6,000 operating hours per year. The haulers are tasked with removing overburden and providing mine development support for the acquisition of high-demand nickel, the harder-than-iron metal used in some form in practically every aspect of day-to-day life. Every full-capacity payload sees each RA40 transport overburden two-kilometres to a project access road and biomass dump for disposal.
Nickel is found everywhere. It’s in coins and turbine blades, in stainless steel and kitchenware, and in mobile phones, laptop computers and television sets. The fifth-most common element on the planet, nickel sulphides develop in environments through the spreading of tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust and core. Corrosive resistant, strong at both high and low temperatures, durable and able to be utilised in a multitude of ways, nickel’s MO could well be strapped to the side of a Rokbak.
PT Hillcon is one of the most significant names in the construction, mining, property and heavy equipment industries in Indonesia. Since its beginnings in 1995, the company has completed hundreds of projects across the archipelago in coal and nickel operations. Its current occupation in the world-class nickel deposit of Weda Bay, in North Maluku, is a five-year process that began in September 2021. It will last until Q4 2026, by which time it will have produced an estimated four million tonnes of nickel.
The three Rokbak haulers were acquired by Hillcon through Rokbak dealer PT Uniquip, an equipment supplier based in Jakarta. With Hillcon’s nearly three decades of experience in the industry and 100 ADTs in its fleet already, PT Uniquip helped highlight why Rokbak haulers stand out from the crowd.
Meeting the challenge
The RA40s entered Weda Bay in February 2022. Daily operations for each RA40 begin at 7am and conclude at 6:45am the following day, across a two-shift driver pattern. These long hours benefit from the truck’s high-performance fluid transmission providing 6,000 hours of operating time before requiring an oil change, meaning increased productivity and uptime as well as low cost per tonne.
However, it’s not unusual for the difficult conditions in this pocket of the planet to bring most operations to a standstill. Rokbak Regional Business Manager Lee Irving regularly makes visits to Indonesia, which lies right along the division between the world’s most active seismic region, the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the world’s second most active region, the Alpide belt.
“This particular site is extremely challenging, with high levels of mud, uneven ground and precarious terrain that gets even worse when the notorious Indonesian wet season rolls around,” says Lee. “To put it mildly, when it rains, it really rains!”
But when times get tough, that’s when this trio of RA40s really excel, with the 38 tonne (41.9 US ton) hauler designed to make light work of large-scale quarry, mine and construction jobs – whatever the conditions.
“With long shift patterns, we’ve been able to see first-hand the RA40’s performance and productivity in Weda Bay, with the truck’s heavy-duty axles coping extremely well against slippage and the subsidence you often find on site,” explains Uniquip sales manager Rachmad Sembiring.
A ringing endorsement
Offering high capacity and performance, the RA40 delivers cost-effective productivity in the toughest conditions. The high-performance engine balances controlled power with maximum fuel efficiency and the modulating transmission retarder is coupled with an efficient exhaust brake and fully enclosed forced oil-cooled multidisc brakes for total control – even on steep inclines.
“The trucks need to be powerful, but safe,” states Hillcon jobsite superintendent Ahmad Siswandi, who makes sure all the machines are ready to operate, serviced and maintained. He’s on-site, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and keeps a keen eye on the Rokbak haulers.
“Seeing an RA40 perform in our mud has proven its worth, and we like that it’s a strong, powerful truck that remains the same performer in difficult conditions.
“The RA40 engine power is exceptional, and the stability of the truck makes the operator feel secure and safe. The instrumental panel is clear, easy and accessible, and the reverse-camera is sharp, with added versatility to operate when moving forward as well.
“The cab’s very comfortable and the air-con has stood out with praise from our operators – and in our climate that is a massive plus!”
The rebranded Rokbak ‘sand’ colour scheme has also been well received in the region, alongside the name embodying rock-solid strength, robustness, reliability and the brand’s promise to always have customers’ backs. It’s challenging sites such as Weda Bay that truly exemplify how well Rokbak delivers on its remit.
“The RA40 strikes the balance between high performance, power, stability, safety and ease of controls and switches,” concludes Ahmad. “The RA40 really is showing its class on site.”