Fig. 1. Sandvik LH 621loader at esco´s Bernburg mine. // Bild 1. Lader LH 621 von Sandvik im Bergwerk Bernburg der esco. Photo/Foto: Adam Lach

esco extracts the eons

Salt production here dates back to the Middle Ages, when brine was evaporated from open pans. Today, esco (european salt company) with its headquarter in Hanover/Germany, relies on modern mining equipment to extract rock salt from an underground deposit formed 250 million years ago.

Mining is ingrained in the history of Bernburg, a town of 35,000 in eastern Germany that sits along an old medieval trade route. The Bernburg salt plant is a key economic driver in this area surrounded by industrial operations. Bernburg was integrated into K+S Group subsidiary esco in 2002 and is now the largest of esco’s three German production sites. The company has invested nearly 170 m e in modernizing the operation in recent years. Today, Bernburg’s mine fields cover an area of around 40 km2 – more than two-thirds the surface area of Manhattan in New York City – and the plant produces 2 m t of salt annually.

esco in Bernburg looked for a supplier who was able to provide a loader that satisfied all their emissions, economic and productivity criteria. Because productivity is the main thing they decided to buy the biggest loading machines from Sandvik with a bucket size of 14 m3. That means 21 t in one shovel. So Bernburg recently bought two of these Sandvik LH621s, the supplier’s largest diesel loader, to replace aging competitor equipment (Figure 1).

Sandvik LH621 had previously proven itself in mines in the United States operated by Morton Salt, another K+S group subsidiary. The Bernburg mine also took into consideration the model’s performance at salt mines in western Germany and a potash mine next to Bernburg.

The cleaner Tier 4 Final engine in Sandvik LH621 was also a key factor in selection. Tier 4 Final is a new technology for the mine but it is necessary to do all to keep the employees healthy and comply with EU emissions regulations. The new loader quickly became an operator favourite. The Sandvik LH621s are the mine’s first loaders with a closed cabin, minimizing operators’ exposure to noise, heat and dust.

“I am impressed that the loader is quite fast, simply regarding the hydraulics and performance, and the air conditioned cabin, especially in the stopes and drifts, where it is dusty and warm,” says operator Davis Protzmann. “There one can operate the loader marvellously. All in all, it is impressive to operate such a huge loader. When I reach the muck pile, the bucket is full immediately.”

Meanwhile Bernburg received its third Sandvik LH621.

Further information/Weitere Informationen:
Sandvik Mining and Construction Central Europe GmbH