Underground hard rock equipment launched locally

15th March 2024 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Underground hard rock equipment launched locally

LOCAL LAUNCH The first products to launch in South Africa include, among others, the Komatsu single boom ZJ21 jumbo drill rig and the Komatsu ZB21 medium-class bolter

Mining and industrial machinery developer and manufacturer Komatsu launched, at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba, held in February in Cape Town, three new models in its underground range that are applicable to hard rock applications, following an expansion of its portfolio to develop and make available such equipment to the African market.

Komatsu, traditionally a manufacturer of opencast mining equipment, expanded its portfolio to include underground soft rock mining with its acquisition of Joy Global in 2017, and is now introducing underground hard rock mining equipment to Africa.

The company adds that the introduction of underground hard rock products will offer further sustainable mining solutions.

The first products to launch in South Africa include the Komatsu WXO7 wheel loader, the Komatsu single boom ZJ21 jumbo drill rig and the Komatsu ZB21 medium- class bolter.

Komatsu views subsurface, hard rock extraction in African mining applications as integral to its strategy to offer customers a complete mining solution, in both the surface and underground mining environments.

“We see Mining Indaba, the largest minerals event on the continent, as the ideal stage on which to introduce new and existing customers to products that have achieved success in other mining territories, but are yet to be debuted in Africa,” states Komatsu GM for mining operations Hermann Hollhumer.

Komatsu reports that its innovative drill and bolter products share a common platform, extending from rear skirt to outer boom, thereby enabling operators to easily convert from drill work to bolting work.

Komatsu adds that this high degree of commonality extends to the equipment’s control systems and operator platforms.

“We’re committed to playing our part in helping the world find solutions to achieve the energy transition it needs, and look forward to bringing customers in the underground hard rock mining sector the same quality of equipment, service and support associated with surface mining equipment in the Komatsu range,” he says.

Hollhumer adds that, with its entry into the hard rock mining scene in Africa, Komatsu will help the continental mining industry contribute to the urgent global demand for minerals and the global shift to renewables.

Renewed Demand

According to the findings in a report – titled ‘The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transition, SIEA, 2021’ – by autonomous intergovernmental organisation International Energy Agency, reaching the clean energy goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement by 2040, will require a quadrupling of mineable mineral resources.

“This surge represents an opportunity for Africa and Komatsu,” says Hollhumer.

The report states that an even faster transition, to hit net zero globally by 2050, will require six times more mineral inputs in 2040, as compared with what is currently available.

To move to a cleaner energy system, Komatsu points again to the report’s implication that an exponential increase is required in the scale of sustainable mining operations and the expanded extraction of key minerals including copper, silver, nickel, manganese, cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, zinc and rare earth minerals.

“The journey to net zero by 2050 cannot be reached at the expense of other environmental, social and governance considerations, which means that when assessing new projects, mining companies will increasingly look towards underground methods to mitigate their impacts on the natural environment and host communities,” he concludes.