Porter Press Extra: Hyundai HL970

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

Bathurst Resources recently took delivery of a new Hyundai HL970 wheel loader at its Takitimu operation in Southland

The latest Hyundai to arrive on-site: XL-sized Hyundai HL970

The ‘rule of three’ is a crucial part of operations at Bathurst Resources’ Takatimu sub-bituminous coal mine. Well, the rule certainly applies to the company’s wheel loader fleet, which always numbers two frontline machines and a reserve.

Between carting the high-quality Takitimu coal out of the pit, loading the Sandvik QA451 mobile screen, and then loading out to trucks coming in through the gate, each wheel loader will be tasked with moving around 220,000 tonnes of coal over a year, 10 hours per day, seven days per week.

Each wheel loader in the fleet will be tasked with moving around 220,000T of coal over a year

It’s no surprise that machine reliability is paramount. The wheel loaders — all from the 11 model-strong Hyundai wheel loader range — rack up the operating hours pretty quickly.

"We tend to rotate machines out of frontline work every 12–13,000 hours," says Graeme Eyles, Bathurst Resources workshop foreman. "But I have to say during that time, we don’t usually need to do anything substantial to keep them in order.

The Hyundais are reliable overall, and we just complete the usual minor maintenance you’d expect of any hard-working machine." The latest Hyundai to arrive on-site at Takitimu, in the tiny Southland hamlet of Nightcaps, is the XL-sized Hyundai HL970.

The HL970 has an operating weight of 23.8T

With an operating weight of 23.8 tonnes, the Hyundai HL970 is the second largest wheel loader the brand offers. It works alongside two 23-tonne Hyundai HL770-9s.

The Hyundai HL970 is the second largest wheel loader the brand offers

The Hyundai HL970 contains a host of significant engineering and comfort improvements — all part of Hyundai’s machine updates that have been rolled out with the arrival of the 900 series wheel loader range.

For example, the Hyundai HL970 comes standard with the manufacturer’s highly regarded Around View Monitoring System. This offers a full 360-degree view around the wheel loader for the driver, including a top-down ‘bird’s-eye’ view of the machine and its surroundings in real-time.

Attached to the system is Hyundai’s Intelligent Moving Object Detection technology, which alerts the operator should an object such as a fellow worker or light vehicle be detected within a specified parameter of the machine.

Nick van Zoelen, mining superintendent, Graeme Eyles, workshop foreman; Strathan Hurst, machine operator

"That’s a really useful bit of safety equipment, especially in a busy place like a mine site," says Nick van Zoelen, Bathurst Resources mining superintendent.

"We obviously have very strict safety protocols for all our equipment, and you’ll find cameras and so forth on other machines here. But having the technology integrated into the machine from the factory is a real bonus.

There are always hassles with third-party gear, whether it’s having to accommodate extra wiring harnesses or extra screens in the cab; with the Hyundai system, it’s all integrated."

Nick says that after the Hyundai HL970 arrived at Takitimu, New Zealand distributor Porter Equipment organised for a trainer to come down and run Bathurst Resources’ driver staff through the wheel loader’s onboard features.

The trainer also worked with the company’s operators to alter certain machine settings to suit the day-to-day work at Takitimu specifically.

Porter Equipment ensures all Bathurst Resources machines arrive in ‘mine spec’

Speaking of modifications, Porter Equipment ensures all Bathurst Resources machines arrive in ‘mine spec’, meaning they are delivered with e-stops, double isolators for both the starter and battery, flashing beacons, handrails on all operator surfaces above two metres, and Hardox-protected buckets.

"We change the buckets on the loaders to suit the material we’re working with," says Graeme. "Coal is much lighter than other aggregates, meaning the loaders can lift more per cycle. We add 400mm of steel all the way around the bucket to give it extra capacity. This work is completed through Porter Equipment before the machine heads our way."

Bathurst Resources’ wheel loaders aren’t the only pieces of equipment Porter Equipment has worked with the company to modify for coal mining. When the Sandvik QA451 screen first arrived on-site a few years back, the weight differences between standard gravel and coal meant the machine needed recalibrating accordingly.


With the screens really shaking during processing, the Bathurst Resources team worked with Porters to find a solution. In the end, they took some weight out of the shaft to ensure the throw was milder for the lighter product — a straightforward solution that came about due to the good working relationship between the two entities.

"Porters just offer a really good service all round," Graeme continues. "Ross (Moody, Otago and Southland sales manager) is really good to deal with, whether it’s getting a quote or advice; nothing’s ever an issue.

"And the Porter parts and service guys in Dunedin are also good to deal with. We replace all the consumables here ourselves, but all the scheduled maintenance happens on-site when it works for us."

Graeme and Nick agree that the Hyundai HL970’s pre-delivery engineering mods and delivery on-site all happened in an impressively quick manner as well.

"The machine arrived in Auckland on 3 December last year. Then all the modifications were completed, and it was delivered to the mine on 23 December, which is bloody quick, especially when you consider all the delays the supply chain is dealing with these days," says Graeme.


On a broader plain, Porter Equipment even worked with Hyundai at the factory level in Korea, ensuring New Zealand market 900 series wheel loaders feature a new hydraulic differential lock as standard.

The hydraulically controlled diff lock works to reduce fuel consumption while improving mechanical durability at the same time by preventing wheel slip.

The Hyundai HL970 features a larger capacity rear axle than in the previous series, offering more reliable performance and longer durability, while the integrated cooling system prevents overheating of the axle oil caused by the frequent braking and high load work typical of a shift at the mine.

Nick adds that the Ride Control system — which reduces operator fatigue and material spillage during operation through an accumulator that helps to minimise shock — is much better in the new machine, and the LED lights are a simple but effective advancement, mitigating the need to replace bulbs so often.

"You want to know you’re investing in good gear when the time comes," Nick concludes. "These Hyundai wheel loaders do what we expect them to do, and we’re well supported through Porter Equipment while they’re doing the hours for us."

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