Targeting new giant

Not long ago, Zhodino’s plant, near Minsk, produced its 500th BelAZ dump truck, with 220 tonne capacity. It headed for customer delivery immediately on leaving the assembly line. The plant now outlines ambitious new plans…

By Yevgeny Pimenov

The 220 tonne dump truck is among the most popular models, being used in quarries in Russia, Australia, China, the South African Republic, Venezuela, Serbia and elsewhere. The plant’s designers are already planning a 420-450 tonne vehicle, although it’s hard to imagine this giant. Against the recently manufactured dump truck, a person looks rather like a character from the film Jurassic Park.

BelAZ JSC currently boasts a third of worldwide sales for dump trucks, offering the widest range of quarry machinery. The Belarusian plant even has plans to outstrip its closest rival: American Caterpillar. General Director Piotr Parkhomchik explains that tough times in the domestic economy have pushed the factory to focus more attentively on potential exports, with advertising strengthened and specialists personally visiting promising markets to promote goods. Some rivals are now envious of BelAZ’s success, as it has enhanced its production volumes and now exports not just to Russia (its former primary partner) but to almost every quarry mining company around the world. It produces a whole range of quarry machinery for mining, as well as dump trucks, and machinery for underground use is being developed.

“The positive foreign trade balance in the first quarter of the year stood at around $100m,” notes Mr. Parkhomchik. “Against the same period of 2010, our exports rose by 30 percent. In the first three months of 2011, our vehicles were supplied to Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, the SAR, Venezuela, China, Mongolia, Vietnam and Iran. Deliveries to Chile are now planned.” This year, BelAZ has, for the first time, offered transport leasing to foreign buyers, with non-CIS states able to pay for expensive heavy trucks in instalments over 3-5 years. “This year, our first delivery of the kind headed for the SAR: seven vehicles worth over $12m. Promagroleasing acted as an intermediary,” says Mr. Parkhomchik. “This was a pilot project which has proved profitable for both our state and our company.”

As regards the future 450 tonne dump truck, Mr. Parkhomchik and the plant’s chief designer, Oleg Stepuk, are convinced that the design is possible, tapping into the global mining trend to raise cargo capacity. The use of such vehicles reduces costs and prime cost per tonne-kilometre, but such a giant has never before been attempted; finding wheels of the necessary size could prove a challenge, as none suitable are manufactured at present. However, Belarus is unlikely to view this as an obstacle; there’s a first time for everything.

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