Excavators moving mountains in Lesotho

28th September 2018 By: Halima Frost - Reporter

Excavators moving mountains in Lesotho

UNEARTHING POTENTIAL Basil Read is using Hyundai R850LC-9S tracked excavators for a diamond operation in Lesotho

Contractor Basil Read’s mining division has added four new excavators from construction equipment manufacturer Hyundai to its fleet of mobile mining equipment.

The excavators – a Hyundai R520LC-9S hydraulic crawler excavator, a Hyundai R850LC-9S tracked excavator, and two 22 T Hyundai R220LC-9S tracked excavators – were supplied by construction equipment supplier HPE Africa.

They were delivered during December 2017 and January 2018 to a diamond mine, in Lesotho.

Excavation at the site started in February and involves having to move between 600 000 t/m and 700 000 t/m of material in the first year, ramping up to potentially one-million tons of material over time.

“We have to operate this site 24/7 to meet the project deadline. An around-the-clock operation like this is not a new concept for Basil Read,” says Basil Read operational director Anton Cilliers.

“The Basil Read team is also mindful in every project of minimising the impact of our operations on the natural environment,” boasts Cilliers.

Basil Read plant director Clive Dabner points out that it is important to match the correct machine size to project requirements. The company has to consider budget restraints and needs to find a reputable supplier with a proven record that will provide dependable support and an efficient spare parts service.

“We selected Hyundai excavators because of their reputation for high performance in tough operating conditions, impressive fuel efficiency and minimal downtime. These machines have to date delivered on all expectations,” adds Dabner.

Challenges at the Lesotho site include steep, muddy and narrow roads, which are difficult for large machines to be transported on, as well as extreme weather conditions, including snow.


Operators of the Hyundai R520LC-9S hydraulic crawler excavator, with horsepower ratings of 363 kW gross, or 255 kW net, have noted features for precision control, clear visibility on site and working comfort. Other attributes include a long undercarriage and adjustable track width, which increase the machine’s stability.

The Hyundai R850LC-9S tracked excavator has a Cummins QSX15 engine, with dual overhead cams for optimum performance. Computerised work modes also enable the operator to match performance to site conditions. Hyundai machines are designed for easy re-fuelling on site and easy serviceability, as well as reduced maintenance time, as there are grease points and there is ground-line access to critical services.

The two 22 T Hyundai R220LC-9S tracked excavators each boast a bucket digging force of 133.4 kN on the 2 m arm and are fitted with Hyundai HM 5.9 engines, offering a fuel consumption of only 16.6 ℓ/h. The machines are self-stabilising, owing to their weight, can provide their own anchor support and be manoeuvred over arduous and steep terrain.

Service Offering

Basil Read maintains its leading position in the mining sector by relying on the extensive skills of its capable team, with many members having worked for the company for years.

“The company’s well-established policies and procedures are highly valued in the industry, our commitment to stringent safety standards – our safety record – speaks for itself. Basil Read procures only quality plant equipment, designed for efficiency, durability and extended service life,” explains Cilliers.

Basil Read also endeavours to maintain strong relationships with clients and suppliers while tailoring its products and services to meet exact market demand.

Meanwhile, exclusive local distributors of Hyundai construction equipment HPE Africa has been instrumental in the supply of the excavators.

“We are very pleased to have secured a long-term partnership with Basil Read and it is satisfying that our equipment is performing so well,” says HPE Africa MD Alex Ackron.