Volvo fleet moves 17,000 tons of rock per shift


For LTL Contracting, round-the-clock production is the Ex Factor

Northwest of Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario lies the Lac Des Iles palladium mine. Although open pit mining concluded in 2013, the site is as busy as ever. LTL Contracting Ltd (LTL) has been hired to build a 50-foot dam for the site’s tailing management ponds. Completing the job on time has required round-the-clock production from the company’s fleet of 22 Volvo machines.

“We need to build the dam from the waste rock in order to store and to separate the water and the tailings that are extracted in the milling process,” says Kevin Fucile, general manager of LTL, Thunder Bay. “The construction process is very dependent on the Volvo equipment.”

The company is currently working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, hauling anywhere from 14,000 to 17,000 tons of material per shift. The rock is typically about 3 feet in size and is being loaded and hauled to the dam and also to a stockpile of rejected rock. The material is breccia — a particularly hard and abrasive rock that puts the company’s equipment to the test. Vital to the operation is the company’s Volvo EC700 crawler excavator — a workhorse that is responsible for loading the tough waste rock at the overburden pit with its impressive 6.6 cubic meter bucket.

At the dam site, a Volvo EC380 excavator is working at the toe of the dam to excavate down to bedrock. The EC380 casts dirt and excess waste rock away from the toe of the rock slope, to clear the way for more suitable material that slides down as the company’s Volvo articulated haulers dump it.

“We prefer the Volvo excavators because we have found that their fuel economy is excellent, and so is the strength of their hydraulic systems,” says Kevin. “And for comfort for the operators, we prefer the Volvo products.” 

The bucket of the EC380 has been hard-faced with T-400 steel on the underside, to resist wear from the abrasive rock. Meanwhile, a Volvo EC480D also works to excavate dirt from the toe of the downstream dam slope.

Wear and tear caused by the abrasive rock is a primary challenge faced by LTL Contracting. “The biggest thing is that it’s rock,” adds Scott MacLeod, president at LTL. “We’re not moving gravel. So when you start putting that in and out of truck boxes and buckets, you get a lot of wear, just because of the sheer volume and hardness.”

Wear and tear on buckets isn’t the only challenge. At times, the company has run 24 hours per day, so downtime simply isn’t an option. But Volvo has been able to deliver the uptime they require.

“On a 24-hour cycle, which we have run, or even the 12-hour cycle that we’re running in now, the maintenance is nearly zero,” adds Scott.

For LTL Contracting, uptime and round-the-clock production is the Ex Factor.