IM Magazine caught up with NMT VP Business Development Richard DeRuiter on the company’s SCHALKE acquisition and talked with him in more detail on the deal and its potential.
Q Why did NMT acquire Schalke and what does it now give you in terms of overall offering to the mining industry specifically in terms of rail and loco solutions?
A NMT can offer one complete rail haulage system for mining operations from one source now, so trains (locomotives and cars) plus loading and unloading stations. A long-time worldwide cooperation was already existing and NMT was SCHALKE’s agent for North America already for many years. Also, acquiring SCHALKE has allowed NMT to diversify into not only underground operations but surface mining and industrial applications
Q What experience and background in mining rail had NMT before the Schalke buy? And can you give any details of projects you had partnered or collaborated with them on up to that point?
A NMT was a leader in underground continuous loading and unloading rail haulage systems around the world for over thirty years with our systems used in most of the world’s largest underground mines. We have collaborated at many mines but which include LKAB Kiruna in Sweden (iron ore), Freeport McMoRan Grasberg in Indonesia (copper-gold) and Vale Thompson in Canada (nickel) projects and on other new projects at the bidding phase such as in Australia, China and Russia.
Q Can you explain why you now feel you have a one stop shop for mining rail haulage?
A The NMT solutions and equipment always were leaders in the movement of ore, materials and personnel both in vertical shafts and horizontal tunnels, and now with the addition of SCHALKE technology in traction and technology in maintenance equipment as stated it gives us diversification not only in mining but urban metro and other industrial applications.
Q Can you provide a synopsis of the SCHALKE ModuTrac technology?
A ModuTrac is a trademark and stands for “modular traction systems.” It means that SCHALKE’s technology allows to exchange the power sources of the locomotives in a very short time, such as from diesel to battery. Furthermore, different power sources like dieselpowerpack, battery-powerpack, pantograph for overhead wire and/or pantograph for third rail are possible options. Our 40 t Freeport Grasberg locos “MMT-M-270-BDE” are ModuTrac locos, because we can switch within one hour from diesel-powerpack to battery-powerpack and vice versa. Furthermore, we are developing modular mining locomotives “SMT-M-100-BDE” with weights from just a few tonnes up to 25 t, which will have the ModuTrac functions as well. But also, besides mining our new modular multi system service and shunting locomotives “MMT-S-800-BDE” for urban rail transport operators are ModuTrac equipped.
Q In a general sense can you give some idea of what types of mines are now looking at rail and why? Are you only focussed on the autonomous, very large tonnage rail projects?
A We have always offered systems that will fit all applications from large tonnage to small tonnage, and from totally manual to fully autonomous systems. The key factor of our technology and systems is they are scalable, reliable and flexible for any application. Mines are looking at rail due to higher efficiency, the robustness and longevity of rail versus other mobile equipment, better environmental factors with a major carbon footprint reduction and the fact that it has the lowest operating and maintenance costs with driverless systems available, therefore less workforce underground.
Q What has the mining rail industry learnt or inherited from tunnelling rail in terms of technology and knowhow and what are the main differences in approach?
A Actually I would say that the crossover is minimal, as there are two completely different sets of requirements. Tunnelling equipment is typically built for two years of operation (or less because tunnels are normally done well within this time period), whereas mining locos are built for 25+ years of operation. Tunnelling locos are therefore cheaper but much less reliable than mining locos.