WHAT is huge, yellow, has eight enormous wheels, is 20 years old, and has Joburgers gawking every time they pass it? A retired 125-ton haul truck, donated to the mining district by Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen Mine in the Northern Cape, that’s what.
In place on the corner of Ntemi Piliso and Hall streets for the past three months, the truck was officially unveiled on Wednesday by the company’s chief executive, Chris Griffiths. He smiled and said what a pleasure it was to donate the truck to add to the growing mining street furniture of Ferreirasdorp, the southwestern corner of the South-Western Improvement District (SWID), of the CBD.
Almost two years ago he was asked by the board of the SWID: “Why isn’t there any street furniture in the SWID that speaks to mining in the present?”
The orderly and attractive mining district, which falls within the SWID, has other street furniture, making a bold statement on this edge of the CBD: a tall metal mining gear, coco pans, and a replica gold Mapungubwe rhino, all accompanied by informative story boards.
After 20 years of service, the “trusty workhorse” was offered, said Griffiths. It took 18 months of planning, including partly dismantling the truck, before it was transported from the mine, 280 kilometres northwest of Kimberley, to the city centre.
Known as a unit rig mark 36 payload haul truck, it has a fuel consumption rate of 85 litres an hour, and an estimated lifespan of 10 years.
“But this robust dynamo, with a little help from a re-build, actually gave the mine two decades of steadfast service,” says a Chamber of Mines statement.
Sishen Mine was opened in 1947, and is one of the seven largest open-cast mines in the world, with an open pit 11 kilometres long, 1,5 kilometres wide and 400 metres deep. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Before going into retirement, this mechanical giant would haul the mine’s valuable iron ore to the crusher, or help to clear waste from the site,” indicates the statement.
Transporting the haul truck took two low-bed trucks six days. To get it into place on the city street, roads were closed off, traders moved and bollards temporarily lifted, early on a Sunday morning last October. A crane was installed, after CCTV cables had been removed, and re-installed after the placement. Twenty-four hour guards have been positioned at the truck, to ensure that no one climbs on the machine, with the potential to fall off.
“This mark 36, 125-ton payload haul truck stands at the entrance of the SWID, courtesy of Kumba Iron Ore, as a testament to man’s mechanical genius and to the glorious abundance of minerals found throughout South Africa.”
The truck was diesel-powered, but could also harness electrical powers from its electrical motors to boost its uphill travel when fully laden.
“The ability to switch from diesel power to electrical power greatly reduced the fuel consumption and also increased its top speed from 10kph to 18kph on the steep uphill sections of the pit.”
Newer models have a capacity of a staggering 350 tons. The mine has 78 of these giants.
Jeanette Hofsajer, the chair of the SWID, says a fence is likely to be erected around the truck in the future.
An ox wagon
She says that Ferreirasdorp is to get an ox wagon, tent and chairs, in memory of Colonel Ignatius Ferreira, the first gold prospector to pitch his tent in the open veld that became the city of Johannesburg. The wagon is a donation from the James Hall Museum of Transport. These artefacts will be erected in Hollard Street initially, while construction of a new development takes place around the truck, to be called Stimela Square once it is finished.
Immediately behind the truck is the Westgate Rea Vaya bus station, and St Alban’s Anglican Church, built in 1928 – it is an intriguing mix of old and new Johannesburg.
The SWID was established as a voluntary city improvement district in September 1996, the second improvement district to be established in Joburg. It was formalised in 2004 and covers 24 blocks which incorporate the Standard Bank Superblock Complex and the head offices of various organisations, including the Chamber of Mines, BHP Billiton, and SA Eagle.
Other organisations with offices within the district include the ANC in Walter Sisulu House, the Rand Club, Samancor, Anglo Platinum, Anglo Operations, the South African Revenue Services, the National Union of Mine Workers, and national and provincial government.
It is located between Market Street in the north, Ntemi Piliso Street in the west, Village Street in the south and Rissik Street in the east. The SWID is managed by Urban Genesis Management