In Australia, and around the world, Caterpillar machinery has become a familiar sight across the mining landscape. It would be hard to find an Australian mine that doesn’t have at least one of Caterpillar’s bright yellow machines working hard on the surface or underground. The company has certainly come a long way since it began in 1890. Today, it continues to evolve to meet the demands of its customers and the industry. So, what is it specifically about Caterpillar that makes it a leading name in mining equipment?
The History of Caterpillar Mining Equipment
Caterpillar’s co-founders Benjamin Holt and C.L. Best were originally competitors in business but joined forces in 1890. They had a vision to create products that transformed the way people worked. One of their first creations was a steam tractor. At a time when horses were the only choice of horsepower for farmers, the steam tractor revolutionised the industry.
One of the next big moments in Caterpillar’s history was the invention of its track-type wheels. After hearing that some farmers were getting their steam tractors stuck in soft peat soil, Holt got to work engineering a solution. Removing the rear wheels and replacing them with tracks proved to be a winning idea. It was also a landmark moment for the business.
During the testing of the new steam tractor’s tracks, the company photographer commented that the machine crawled like a big Caterpillar. In 1910 the name Caterpillar was trademarked.
Caterpillar moves into Australian Mining
While Caterpillar machinery was being used in Australia as early as 1913, it wasn’t until 1955 that the company officially established itself down under. Hundreds of Caterpillar machines were brought in to prepare sites for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and around 10 years later Caterpillar machinery helped develop the 426-kilometre Mount Newman rail line between Newman and Port Hedland. Caterpillar’s reputation was growing, and it wasn’t long before the expanding Australian mining industry would start calling.
Since 1980, thousands of Caterpillar loaders, excavators, dozers, skid steers and trucks have been used on mine sites around Australia. The brand has always had a strong focus on safety, quality and innovation. This has helped push Caterpillar to become the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. Another primary focus is sustainability and creating a reduced-carbon future. In 2021, Caterpillar and Rio Tinto signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks and one of Rio Tinto’s WA mines. It is this desire to innovate and advance that will keep Caterpillar at the top of WA mining for years to come.
Caterpillar’s Underground Mining Equipment
While we’re used to seeing a big yellow dozer or excavator on the surface, Caterpillar is also keeping our mining industry safe underground. Managing the logistics, operating costs and environmental conditions of underground mining requires careful planning and the right equipment. Caterpillar has been at the forefront of underground mining for decades and continues to create machinery that is designed specifically for underground conditions. Some of the most used underground machines include:
Caterpillar R1300G LHD
A high-performing underground loader used in narrow vein mining applications.
Caterpillar R1700G LHD
Offers low cost-per-ton for loading, hauling and tramming.
Cat 924G Integrated Tool Carrier
A compact and powerful compact tool carrier with plenty of safety features.
Cat 930H Integrated Tool Carrier
A multi-purpose tool carrier with a 3-person cabin and improved safety features.
Cat R2900G LHD
The compact and rugged construction offers excellent productivity and low operating costs.
Where to buy or hire Caterpillar Mining Equipment
With their long history and continued innovation, Caterpillar has proven itself as a leading manufacturer of mining equipment. Choosing to buy or hire mining machinery can come down to budget, but it’s essential that you select a local supplier that knows the industry. If your specialty is underground mining, talk to the team at Minspares.
Minspares specialise in supplying equipment for underground mining. All their hire machinery undergoes thorough testing to meet the strict quality standards. Whatever machinery you need for your underground mining operation, Minspares have the range and experience you need.