Giants of coal mining spread worldwide

At the recent World Weightlifting Championship — held in Paris — Belarusian Anastasia Novikova captured gold. This seemingly fragile woman, weighing just 58kg, managed to lift a 237kg barbell. Anastasia has been crowned Europe’s strongest woman three times, also winning bronze at the 2008 Olympics. However, there is a certain symbolism to her sporting career which is often neglected by commentators: she trains at the Silach (Strongman) health and fitness club, at the Belarusian Automobile Works — known as BelAZ. The company is also a multi-time record-setter — for creating heavy duty dump trucks, which are operational in over 70 countries. Naturally, neither the notable sportswoman nor the famous plant has plans to give up their global leadership.

By Vladimir Yakovlev

BelAZ is steadily developing new models and modifications for its machinery, while expanding its production volumes and conquering new markets. In early 2012, twenty 45 tonne dump trucks are to be sold to Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Belarusian giants are already used in China, Australia and the South African Republic. At present, the plant oversees a third of the global market for quarry machinery, exporting 95 percent of its manufacture.

“We are winning large tenders organised by foreign companies who are wishing to purchase ever more of our dump trucks,” the General Director of BelAZ JSC, Piotr Parkhomchik, tells us. “In 2010, we took part in a tender in Serbia, which did not previously use dump trucks of high capacity. Eventually, we won, despite competing against world renowned foreign firms. The Serbs bought ten dump trucks from us and, in 2011, purchased another eight without holding a tender. This speaks for itself.”

Dump trucks of high and super-high capacity can carry loads of 220 tonnes or more; these occupy a major share in the plant’s range. Not long ago, BelAZ assembled its first 360 tonne giant: over 9m high and 15m long. Today, the enterprise’s range equals that of famous rivals, despite the fact that dump trucks of high and super-high capacity are enjoying growing demand globally. Such machinery enhances labour efficiency of course. The Belarusian Automobile Works plans to produce a unique 450 tonne vehicle in 2013, with customers in Chile and Russia already showing interest. BelAZ is designing its giant to suit these countries’ pits. Meanwhile, other bold plans include the production of a 560 tonne vehicle able to transport huge volumes of mineral resources.

The Zhodino-made giants are ever being improved. Not long ago, BelAZ’s new generation cabin won a gold medal at a specialised international exhibition — being more spacious and boasting an electronic system of diagnostics. It is also equipped with a more comfortable seat, a climate control system and a table on which drivers can enjoy a light meal. “In developing the cabin, we took into account the wishes of our customers. By making drivers comfortable, we favourably influence their labour efficiency,” explains the deputy general designer of BelAZ, Gennady Boldyrev. All 90-320 tonne dump trucks being supplied to foreign markets are now equipped with the new cabin.

The plant is ever expanding its range and the first 190 tonne vehicle is soon to be assembled, while 240 tonne dump trucks are already a reality. In the near future, BelAZ plans to manufacture a 280-290 tonne vehicle. Impressively, over its 50 years of operation, the company has created around 500 models of quarry machinery (over 135,000 vehicles in total).

BelAZ is also enhancing its plant facilities. In 2011 alone, its industrial output rose about 1.4-fold against the same period of 2010. As the company tells us, by the end of this year, it will have manufactured fourteen 220 tonne dump trucks a month, rising by another two per month in 2012. Its production of 320-360 tonne giants will double and, by 2015, new production facilities will have been launched at the plant, enabling it to annually manufacture 840 heavy duty dump trucks.

In November 2011, Belarus’ Prime Minister, Mikhail Myasnikovich, visited the plant, discussing prospects for development and solemnly laying a time capsule into the foundations of a new production block (for the manufacture of heavy vehicles). The investment project is to cost around $500m. Simultaneously, Belshina JSC is working on new tyres for these giants. No doubt, a new era is on the horizon for Belarusian quarry machinery.

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