Mineral sands producer Namakwa Sands’ mine at Brand se Baai on the Cape west coast selected the newly introduced 52.7 tonne Komatsu WA600- 6 wheel loader for deployment on load-and-carry work at its east mine on account of it being the lowest cost per tonne and highest tonnes per hour machine available on the market.

The first purchaser of the new generation machines in southern Africa, Namakwa Sands took delivery of two units from Komatsu Southern Africa earlier this year and has a third on order that is due for delivery in November.

Purchased as replacements for two old Komatsu WA600-3 wheel loaders, the two new machines, which are used in the pit to carry ore from the face and load it into hoppers equipped with static grizzly bars feeding conveyors linked to the mineral processing plant, have more than met the mine’s expectations.

They achieve a 33% higher tonnes-per-hour output compared with their predecessors, consume 28% less fuel on a litres-per-tonne basis and their cycle times are 6% faster.

“As the figures show, we have seen a huge increase in production efficiency with the new loaders,” Riaan Mouton, the mine’s project engineer says.


The Komatsu WA600-6 wheel loader
scooping material. The machine is
provided with a rear access stair
with safety rails for safe boarding
and exiting of the machine.The
front hinged cab doors allow
for easy entry and exist of
the cab.

He adds that among a number of improvements and features the new model possesses that contribute to this, in addition to greater power, fuel efficiency, speed and stability, are the large loading bucket, the electronic pilot control system, the traction control system, the electronically controlled suspension system and the lockup torque converter.

“The electronic pilot control system, for example, enables the operator to adjust the bucket from his cab to position it at the right angle and loading level to suit the ground conditions and loading requirements,” Mouton says. “This eliminates the previous requirement of having to call in an artisan to do external mechanical adjustments, which inevitably resulted in downtime and interrupted the flow of production.”

The WA600-6 loaders operating at Namakwa Sands are equipped with special larger-than-standard 8 m3 loading buckets to load the low specific gravity ore. This is an increase in capacity over that of the ‘Dash 3’ machines, which were equipped with 7.4 m3 buckets.

The standard bucket size of the new WA600-6 for most mining and other earthmoving applications is 6.4 m3. The new model, which has a flywheel power of 393 kW (SAEJ 1349) at 1,800 rpm and an operating weight of 52,700 kg, is designed for high loading applications, being equipped with a long-arm boom that gives it a dump clearance at maximum height and 45 degree dump angle of 3,995 mm.

“The WA600-6 is well in advance of its predecessor, the 46 tonne WA600-3, in every way. It is acknowledged globally as one of the top machines in its class,” Archie Seleka, general manager of Komatsu SA’s Mining division, says.