Compact mining equipment, which at its inception was not taken seriously, has become a useful maintenance and production tool over the past decade. Deryck Jordan, director of Bobcat Equipment South Africa, speaks to Inside Mining about Bobcat’s commitment to delivering compact equipment solutions that are tough, durable and dependable.

“Mining companies should be open-minded to the possibilities that compact equipment today offers the modern world. Bobcat’s short wheel-based small- and medium-framed skid-steer loaders have come a long way since they were first introduced to the market and are surprising the mining industry every day with their versatility. There is hardly an area of the mining sector – both underground and on surface – where our compact equipment is not being used today,” states Jordan.

Bobcat skid-steer loaders are currently in use across all the mining sectors across the African continent, including gold, platinum, diamond, iron ore, copper and coal.

Although generally used for loading and cleaning, the machines can be fitted with a multitude of attachments. In mining this includes buckets, dumper/hoppers, pallet forks, a belt scraper (for cleaning conveyor belts) and four different types of brooms. Bobcat also develops customised attachments together with mining engineering clients that require a specialised piece of equipment that could be useful to them in their specific mining environment.

The latest small frame underground machine from Bobcat, with its short wheelbase for maximum manoeuvrability, has been specially developed and customised for South African conditions and incorporates all the features of a big mining machine scaled down into a compact loader. Advanced features include a flame proofing system, the Boyco safety system (to warn miners of the machine’s proximity), green and red LED lights for direction, an on-board fire suppression system, and an electrical micro switch system that cuts out the hydraulics if the seat bar is lifted.

Bobcat also offers a larger, big-frame, mid-loading surface machine with similar safety features as its smaller brother and a fully enclosed, pressurised cabin with suspended seat, air conditioning and heater. A unique feature of this machine is its modern technology, which enables an operator to switch over from skid-steer to joystick control with a flick of a switch. The cabin incorporates various electronic panels for different features, like the recording of production time.

With a footprint that covers the entire South African mining sector, Bobcat is able to provide technical support, complete maintenance, repairs and spares. The company also offers a short-term rental facility for the mining industry with a wide range of machines and attachments available. Accredited operator training is provided in most mining regions and takes place on-site at the mines as required.