The enormous underground mine in Copiapo, within the Atacama region of Chile, is rich in silver and copper, which is why the northern city possesses a bronze statue of Juan Godoy – discoverer of the Copiapo mines in the 19th century to represent the town’s rich copper status. Another landmark in Volvo Construction Equipment’s 25 year relationship with Chilean copper miner, Pucobre.
Chile's mining industry, developed during the 20th century, has made the country the world's top producer of copper. The northern desert contains great mineral deposits of gold, silver, and copper, and boasts a hot Mediterranean climate, whereas the south is rich in forests and grazing lands featuring a string of volcanoes and lakes.
Copper has been used for thousands of years thanks to its high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable, and it is used as a building material, as well as an essential component of various metal alloys.
Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has a long and successful association of supplying machines and supporting the Chilean mining industry.
“The difference with Volvo is that the company continually invests in technology to increasingly enhance the quality of its products and adapt them to meet the needs of its Chilean customers,” states Volvo CE commercial director, Gilson Capato. “In addition to this, it also offers a set of services that ensures the necessary support in equipment maintenance.”
Pucobre bought its first Volvo products, four BM 4400 wheel loaders, in 1983 and five years later the company introduced the first customized equipment at Pucobre: two 5350B articulated haulers with low emission engines. The package also included two BM 4500 wheel loaders that were put to good use at the mine.
Today, Pucobre operates exclusively with Volvo CE products like articulated haulers, wheel loaders, motor graders, backhoe loaders and skidsteer loaders, proving that quality really does reinforce the test of time theory – the better the quality, the longer it lasts. This year, Volvo CE delivered to the mining company seven new L220F wheel loaders, six A40F articulated haulers and one EC330B excavator. Over the next two years, Volvo CE is set to deliver over 30 new articulated haulers and other equipment, adapted to the needs of the mining industry.
In partnership with SKCM, Volvo CE’s dealer in Chile, the company offers Pucobre a set of solutions that focus on operator safety – product maintenance packages, ongoing staff qualifications for machine and equipment operators, support staff and customized support through SKCM, and actions driven to enhance environmental conservation.
Volvo CE is dedicated to supporting the safety of mining operations and will work closely with the industry to ensure all relevant steps have been taken.
“The quality of Volvo products and the service differentials are factors that ensure the success of the brand’s relationship with Pucobre,” says after-market manager in Chile, Jorge Yoma. “At this point in time, we are developing an operator qualification plan for articulated hauler and excavator operators for implementation and the preliminary test of the CareTrack system in the country.”
Today, Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations and with a little help from its friends at Volvo CE, Pucobre and its copper mine in Copiapo will continue to strike gold – or in this case copper – for years to come.
Text: Chloe Doyle
Picture 1: 'A Volvo articulated hauler drives through Pucobre's mining tunnel'
Picture 2: Gilson Capato – Commercial Director at Volvo CE