Construction Equipment Global
Photographs: © Hans Grand/Ascendum Baumaschinen Österreich GmbH


Mountain is no match for machine

In this article: Customer success Excavators Articulated haulers Wheel loaders

The international steel company Voestalpine has chosen Volvo machinery to help move a mountain of limestone.

With headquarters in Linz, Austria, the Voestalpine Group has been quarrying high-quality limestone from its fully owned Steyrling mine at the center of the Kremsmauer mountain in Upper Austria since 1948. The quarried rock is fed to the company’s steel works in Linz, Kapfenberg and Donawitz, and used to process iron ore into steel. Since last October, a massive 70-tonne Volvo EC700CL hydraulic excavator has been at the heart of this operation. Its role: to move the mountain under the Steyrling lime works.

It is a job for life, as plant manager Björn Kirchner explains: “We have resources here for more than 80 years to come and more than 80 million tonnes of material to excavate. From this perspective we do not need to worry about the future of this site.”


The Steyrling site, one of two mines operated by the Voestalpine Group, employs 49 people and has an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes. The EC700CL is expected to move around half of that. Limestone is blasted and excavated underground and brought to the surface by conveyor belts. The huge 4m³ rock bucket on the EC700CL shifts some 3,600 tonnes of material every day on to Volvo articulated dumper trucks. Uninterrupted production is ensured by a rotation of up to six operators handling the excavator, with daily maintenance performed by Voestalpine’s own specialized technicians.

From April this year some changes are expected in production logistics. A new 250m-long underground double-band conveyor belt will be introduced with a capacity of 500 tonnes per hour, and the EC700CL will be relocated to the top of the Kremsmauer mountain to support a mobile crushing plant.

Voestalpine’s Volvo fleet at work in the shadow of the Kremsmauer mountain


The first Volvo construction equipment was introduced by Voestalpine at the beginning of the 1990s, starting with an EC210 hydraulic excavator and L180 and L220 wheel loaders. Early last year, Austria’s first Volvo L250G wheel loader was brought into service at the Steyrling site. The machine is the second largest wheel loader made by Volvo and the top model in the 35-tonne class. Its 13-liter V-ACT diesel engine with six turbocharged cylinders guarantees high torque at low speed – nearly 400hp.

In conjunction with a new drive train, powerful lift linkage with Z-kinematics and a bucket capacity of up to 10.2m³, the machine is an impressive performer. With cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a particulate filter with active regeneration, the engine meets EU Stage IIIB emission standards, a prerequisite of the customer.


It was a change in mining strategy that led to Voestalpine’s decision to invest further in a large excavator. The company decided to switch from pure wall or floor excavation – front to back – to slice mining – layer by layer from top to bottom. Following inspection of the first EC700L in Austria, in service at a mine near Styria’s Lake Grundlsee since 2006, the decision was made by senior Voestalpine personnel – plant manager Björn Kirchner, purchasing manager Erwin Lungenschmid, excavation manager Wilfried Peyfuss, and workshops manager Herwig Pimminger – to invest in a Volvo excavator for Steyrling lime works.

The EC700CL has a 16.1-liter Stage IIIA emission- compliant Volvo D16E engine and consumes on average 47-48 liters of diesel per hour. It was ordered with extra equipment to suit the application: an additional floor plate, a windscreen guard for the cab, as well as protective devices for lift and bucket cylinders. Additional features were also specified for the comfort of drivers and maintenance personnel, among them a remote-controlled CD and MP3 player, air-conditioning, reversing camera, central lubrication system, and numerous LED spotlights.

New underground double-band conveyor belt

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