The Thiess team is on track to complete its largest ever global relocation of fleet, showing teamwork is the key to getting the job done.

Over the past 12 months, support personnel, technical specialists, asset engineers and administrators from across Thiess’ global business have worked together to coordinate the transport via road and sea of 28 pieces of heavy mining equipment across three continents; a distance over 17,000km.

This complex logistical effort came as Thiess’ team at Ukhaa Khudag (UHG) coal mine in Mongolia's south Gobi Desert, the most remote site in Thiess’ mining portfolio, revised their ongoing mine production requirements.

This change made a fleet of excavators, off-highway trucks, graders and support equipment available to other Thiess projects in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Chile. The opportune purchase of a low hour CAT 994 wheel loader for Thiess’ wholly owned subsidiary, FleetCo, was also added to the Australia bound fleet.

En route to the Chinese border – a fleet of CAT 785C off- highway trucks cross the South Gobi desert.

The overland journey

Starting in Mongolia, the mobile equipment was driven across the Gobi desert in an 800km three day expedition from UHG, near the township of Tsogttsetti, to the CAT dealership in the Chinese border town of Zaamin Udd. The Liebherr R996 and R9400 excavators were partially disassembled onsite for heavy haulage to the border.

The equipment was disassembled to shipping configuration and transported to the port city of Tianjin in north east China. Once cleaned, prepped and cleared through quarantine, the fleet was split and loaded on to two separate shipping vessels bound for Fremantle, Western Australia and the other, Puerto Angamos, Chile via Mackay, Queensland.

Bob McKerrow, Thiess Executive General Manager Assets explains how the Western Australia shipment, which arrived in October 2019, will form a significant portion of the mining fleet for a project in the Pilbara.

“The fleet was reassembled for road transport, fitted out with site specific requirements including new high performance trays and is now ready for its new challenge,” said Bob.

“It makes me immensely proud that we’re able to mobilise our fleet globally to support our operations so that we deliver on our client production targets and create lasting value. And most importantly, that we do this safely and on time and budget.”

Western Australia shipment:

  • 8 x CAT 785C off-highway trucks
  • 1 x 16M motor grader
  • 1 x 994 wheel loader.

Onwards to Chile

The second shipment arrived in Mackay, Queensland in January 2020 where an excavator and two haul trucks were offloaded to support projects in the Hunter Valley and Queensland. Another excavator was loaded to join the Chilean fleet destined for opportunities in the copper mining precinct surrounding Encuentro.

Chilean shipment:

  • 2 x 600t excavators
  • 10 x CAT 793D off-highway trucks
  • 2 x 785C water trucks
  • 1 x 773D service truck.

This investment and effort enables Thiess to provide its clients with certainty of delivery through world class equipment and technology.

Stephen Scott, FLS Australia Managing Director worked with Thiess on the mobilisations.

“The transport, laydown, preparation and shipping operation has been one of the most challenging and complex we have been involved in. This is due to the many and varied regulations and legal requirements in Mongolia, China and Chile when transporting large out of gauge mining equipment," said Stephen.

(L to R): Sven Gronbach, Thiess Asset Lead with Stephen Scott, FLS Australia Managing Director at the Port of Mackay in Queensland.

A logistical milestone

Sven Gronbach, Thiess Assets Lead is tasked with overseeing project planning, logistical management and the internal project communications of the operation. Sven cites teamwork and a desire to deliver the best possible outcome for all involved as the primary reason for the project’s success thus far.

“We undertook a similar demobilisation activity in 2016, and we applied a lot of those lessons learnt to this project,” explains Sven.

“In an undertaking such as this one, understanding the key deliverables and breaking these down to various milestones is absolutely crucial, as is pre-planning.

“We ensured that all of our teams in Mongolia, Australia and Chile were engaged early in the process and were fully briefed on the project plans, progress and expected timelines throughout.

“This has meant we’ve been better able to meet all necessary statutory, budget, time, export and importation requirements throughout the various stages of the project.

“This has helped us to minimise costs, stay on budget and ensure the safest and most efficient passage of travel for the equipment.”

A team of the best

Sven’s says he’s proud of the team effort and the willingness of everyone to pitch in and give their best.

“There are far too many people to list but I want to acknowledge the efforts of our teams in Mongolia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Chile,” said Sven.

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