Mining and exploration company Kalium Lakes has grown its fleet of IVECO 6×6 Astra prime movers to five.
The ASX-listed company is Australia’s only producer of high-grade sulphate of potash (SOP), which is used as a farming fertiliser both domestically and for export.
Based at a large site in Newman, in WA’s Pilbara, the SOP is developed through a multi-stage process.
It is harvested using large milling machines and delivered to an on-site purification facility that converts the salts into premium SOP products. And this is where the Iveco Astras come in.
The trucks feature 13 litre engines producing 520hp and 2400Nm, are coupled to road train trailer sets and operate at 90 to 100t GVM, although are rated at 130t if required.
Travelling slowly alongside the milling machines, the trucks are filled on the move by the harvesters, before transferring the salt to the purification facility for processing.
The first of the five trucks has been in operation for several months. Kalium Lakes non-executive director, Brent Smoothy, says the vehicles which are owned by his company K19 Mining, and being leased to Kalium Lakes, have delivered many benefits.
“We had been using American trucks for this task but after having come across the Astra, we thought it would be a better fit for this application,” Smoothy said.
“Initially some of the drivers were a bit sceptical of making the shift, but after spending some time using the Astras, they now simply wouldn’t go back.”
The trucks also feature an Allison full automatic transmission. “At times the conditions can become quite sloppy during harvesting, so the 6×6 drive gives us added peace of mind,” Smoothy said.
“The full automatic is also easy to use – we run the trucks at idle alongside the harvester for loading and you don’t have to worry about the clutch. The trucks’ turning circle is also impressive.”
Operating 12 hours per day on single shifts, the trucks rarely travel over 50 kilometres per hour or cover long distances, but the operating environment is tough, with outback temperatures regularly sitting in the 40s.
“Most days you can’t put your hand on the outside of the truck body, it’s too hot and it will burn; the Astras handle the conditions easily though, we’ve never had any cooling issues,” Smoothy said.