Heavy Haulage

A matter of logistics

This article first appeared in Contractor March 2017.

Richard Hyde of Global Transport is no stranger to large, difficult or complex haulage jobs. In fact, getting awkward pieces of gear from A to B is his speciality, and that recently included a shipment of mining gear from Peru to Macraes Mine in Otago. By MARY SEARLE BELL.

GLOBAL TRANSPORT was contracted to get five Cat 789D dump trucks onto a ship in a Chilean port, across the South Pacific Ocean to the port in Timaru and then onto transporters for the rest of the journey to the mine.

The dump trucks had been bought for a mining job in the copper-rich Antofagasta region of Chile in 2013 but had barely been used. As such, they were a bit grubby but virtually new.

The seller of the trucks used a local heavy haulage company to get the vehicles to the port in Peru, and that’s where Richard’s company took over. Global Transport had a ship on charter to move the equipment to Port Timaru. Richard’s agent coordinated with the port authority about the shipment and introduced Richard to the authority the day before the move to “make them aware of who we are and what we’re doing”, says Richard.

“Meeting face to face is better than email,” he told Contractor. “They understand you have ownership of the operation. When I got there, people knew who I was.”

The head of operations at the port of Mejillones spoke fluent English and Richard says this helps when you are dealing with stevedores, customs agents, etc.

“While most of South America speaks Spanish, the meaning of some words which may be spoken in Chile are different to those same words spoken in, say, Peru or Argentina.”

Richard says they would usually ship out of the port city of Antofagasta, however, the town was no longer tolerating big loads being transported through its streets. This meant they had to use Mejillones Port, 100 kilometres to the north of Antofagasta. This is a container port but it does allow break bulk operations.

The Cat dump trucks were parked outside the port. The dump bodies had been removed for transport and the chassis were complete with wheels. Although they were pretty clean, Richard decided to give them the once-over again outside of the port to ensure that when they reached New Zealand he would have no issues with MAF. A local truck wash company was hired and duly arrived with water blaster and vacuum cleaner to get rid of the last of the dust.

The bodies were then taken by transporter and the chassis were driven into the port for loading onto the ship.

The Cat chassis are stowed aboard the vessel for the journey to New Zealand.

In Chile, customs does export clearance at the hook. After two chassis were loaded on board and with the third chassis rigged, the ship ballasted and about to lift, the customs officer overseeing the loading decided they had not customs cleared that truck. So rather than start a war of words, it was disconnected and another loaded instead.

Richard says he wasn’t quite sure what it was all about – a show of power perhaps – but “you can’t kick up a stink as they would make life difficult”.

Fortunately, it wasn’t an issue. It added about an hour-and-a-half to the process, but the lifting and stowing went well, says Richard. Little power struggles and ensuring everyone is in the know and happy with the way things are going is all part of working in South America.

“You have to play the game or everything will just stop,” says Richard. “It’s better than it was 20 years ago, but it’s a different culture.

“My jobs run pretty smoothly because I’ve done it so often. But it’s all about knowing the risks – ensuring the right people have been contacted, the correct funds have been paid to the respective parties, and the right questions have been asked.

“Preparation is everything,” he says. “Surprises are the things that kill you.”

After a day and a half, the ship was ready to sail.

The ship, which had originally come out of the US Gulf, was en route to Australia and was late, so the pressure came on the master to run at maximum speed to Port Timaru. However, at the port in Timaru there was another ship on the berth. In order to avoid unnecessary fees, Richard contacted the captain of the ship and asked him to slow down a bit.

At Port Timaru, Laurie Cantwell took control of the operation (Richard was in Peru overseeing another transport operation). Discharge went smoothly as a lot of planning went into the stowing of the vessel. And discharge is always quicker than loading a vessel, says Richard.

“If transporters are sitting, waiting to catch a lift via the ship’s hook, it costs money.”

The bodies were discharged directly onto widening trailers with four rows of eight wheels and headed to the mine site, a 175-kilometre trip south. The bodies are 12.7 metres long and 7.6 metres wide and weigh between 38 and 44 tonnes each.

The chassis were then off-loaded. Although the chassis were too heavy to transport via the road with their wheels on, the wheels had been deliberately left on as the chassis needed to be mobile to move onto the Port at Mejillones, and, more importantly, so they could be driven inside the vessel to the final stow position. It also meant, after being discharged, the trucks could be driven to a laydown area at the port and then a trailer manoeuvred under the chassis, the trailer raised to take the weight of the chassis, then the wheels removed.

A tyre handler was brought down from the mine to remove the wheels. This is a loader with a tyre and wheel attachment. It clamps the wheel then takes the wheel nuts off.

With the wheels removed, the chassis, which weigh around 68 tonnes each, were then lashed to the transporters – either a widening trailer with four rows of eight wheels and two axle dollies or a five axle widening trailer – and departed for the mine.

The wheels and ancillary items comprised another 10 loads to the mine and were transported on flatbed trailers.

The 20 heavy hauls were undertaken by Fulton Hogan, which had three transporters, assisted by BR Satherley Transport, with another two transporters.

You can see some excellent footage of the move, including the gear being hauled up the Macraes Road hill, on the Global Transport website.

A Cat 7890 chassis loaded onto a Fulton Hogan transporter ready to head to Macraes Mine.

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