Believed to be the bringer of prosperity and good fortune, jade is an extremely valuable commodity in Asian cultures. Kachin State is home to some of the world’s highest quality deposits, known as jadeite. The deposits are estimated to be worth up to US$31 billion annually, almost half of Myanmar’s GDP, and the product is exported for use in jewellery and other products.
Ten of the Terex Trucks loaded on a barge for transport along the Uru River.
Much of the extraction of the jade is done by ‘boulder mining’, a process where the overburden material is removed to expose the rocks below, after which the jade-containing rocks are separated, washed and processed to reveal the pockets of precious jade inside.
The extraction process is far from easy and is a tough job for robust, reliable equipment. It is no place for breakdowns which is why, when three local operators needed additional hauling machines to take on the job of transporting thousands of tonnes of blasted rocks and earth 2km or more from the mine to the processing plant, they called on Terex.
The companies - Aung Hein Min Gems Co Ltd, Yar Za Htar Ne Gems Co Ltd, Myanmar Thura Gems Co Ltd – contacted Yangon-based dealer Aung Hein Min Co Ltd (AHM Heavy) to supply 19 Terex Trucks 91-tonne capacity TR100s and 10 Terex Trucks 55-tonne capacity TR60s.
For two of the customers, Terex Trucks had already proved their worth. Aung Hein Min Gems had previously ordered six 38 tonne capacity TA400 articulated haulers, while Yar Za Htar Ne Gems had 20 Terex Trucks TA400 in their fleet. Myanmar Thura Gems is a new customer.
The long haul
Choosing the right trucks for the job was the easy part. AHM Heavy, a Terex Trucks dealer since 2013, then had to tackle the challenge of transporting the machines more than 21,000km from the manufacturing plant in Motherwell, Scotland to the isolated mines of Phakant in Kachin State, northern Myanmar. What followed was a mammoth expedition by container ship, barge and road that took a total of two and a half months for the trucks to complete.
The first part of the journey, which took five weeks, saw the trucks assembled and packed in Motherwell before being transported 16,668km to Yangon, via Singapore by container ship. Once in Yangon the trucks were transferred to three barges, with a maximum of 10 per barge.
“Loading the trucks onto the barges was no easy task,” says AHM Heavy’s Marcus-Zaw Naing Oo. “To avoid sinking the barges and trucks they were loaded in a shuffle sequence to maintain the barge’s balance until all machines were in place. Water levels were critical at this point. If the water level is too low, it cannot support the barge and its cargo. Too high and with a fast flowing river, it’s unsafe and we risk the barge and trucks being swept away.”
Once loaded safely the trucks began their journey along the Uyu River to Phakant’s closest port, Kathar. This part of the journey, 966km, took a further three weeks. Once disembarked the final leg of the journey – a mere 193km – took just three days, with the trucks driving to the mine site’s equipment yards in Phakant. But even this part of the journey was difficult.
“The trucks were delivered during Myanmar’s wet season,” says Marcus-Zaw Naing Oo, “so the roads were often flooded and very muddy, but thanks to their excellent traction the trucks were able to cope with the conditions and we completed the journey relatively easily.”
Terex Trucks at the mine site’s equipment yards in Phakant, northern Myanmar.
Safely arrived at their final destination, the machines were then tested and commissioned by AHM Heavy’s Terex Truck trained engineers to the satisfaction of the clients. With this process completed the trucks were then registered with the Myanmar Government. This new registration scheme takes three to four weeks and is required of all existing and new equipment operated at the country’s mines.
The trucks are now fully up and running, working almost 24/7, says Marcus-Zaw Naing Oo, only undergoing scheduled stoppages for planned maintenance and servicing. The new trucks are only operational during Myanmar’s dry season, which runs from roughly November to May. For the remainder of the year, they are stood down.
“The trucks are playing a vital role, transporting blasted rock and earth from the mine to the processing plant,” says Marcus-Zaw Naing Oo. “So far feedback form the client has been excellent and our reports show outstanding availability, productivity and fuel efficiency, with no major faults, or maintenance requirements.”