Six trucks burning diesel at 30 litres an hour would have translated into 4,320 litres of diesel a day. At 72 cents a litre, Lachance calculated a daily cost of $3,110.40. Assuming a 100-day winter season, the annual cost to Goldcorp’s PGM unit would have been a whopping $311,040.
The solution borrowed from Barrick’s Hemlo operation was the Proheat X45 coolant heater, a small heater that uses diesel from the fuel tank on the truck to keep the coolant warm and recirculate it through the engine.
Fifteen Proheat X45s – for the 12-truck fleet and ancillary equipment – cost Goldcorp approximately $84,000. The payback was just 24 days.
In addition to saving money, the company is cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, prolonging engine life and extending service intervals on the equipment.
“By shutting down the equipment, you’re not accumulating hours, so you’re reducing your preventative maintenance and increasing the life of your components,” said Lachance.
The Proheat X45 keeps the engine and operator cab toasty, a plug-in trickle charger keeps the battery alive and a hydraulic heater element warms the hydraulic oil. When a driver climbs into the cab for the start of a four-hour rotation, it could be a frigid minus 20 degrees Celsius outside, but the cab is nice and comfortable and the 12-cylinder engine roars to life.
Beyond minus 20 degrees C., the trucks have to be kept idling, said Lachance.
The Proheat X45 coolant heaters are more commonly used in the forest industry, where equipment in the bush would otherwise have to idle at night and over the weekend when not in use.
The units experienced some premature coolant pump failures in the early going, but the supplier, I&M Electric of Thunder Bay, eventually equipped them with more robust pumps.
After two years of operation, the Proheat X45s are replaced because they’re used so much, said Lachance.