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19.01.09 Factory of Giants Picks up Steam

It took 11 railroad cars to transport a giant vehicle that is capable of carrying 320 tonnes of ore. The size of the truck is very impressive: it is easier to describe it as a two-storey house than use standard terms applied to vehicles. The giant is powered by a 3,500 horsepower diesel engine and can easily make 60 kilometers per hour on the road. Besides, it runs as smoothly as a brand new motorcar.

The truck was shipped to one of the largest coal producers of Russia, Kuzbassrazerzugol, and became the first BelAZ for the Russian company. However, it will not be lonely there, as Russian partners have already placed an order for two more trucks of the kind, which will be produced this year. BelAZ also plans to offer its machines in China and some other countries that may require super-trucks like BelAZ.

Belarusian Automobile Plant, or BelAZ, based in the town of Zhodino, is one of the world leaders in production of mine dump trucks. BelAZ accounts for about 30% of the world output of large trucks for open-cut mining. The smallest BelAZ vehicle (if the word “small” could be applied to what looks like a prehistoric beast) is capable of carrying 30 tonnes. There are trucks with a capacity of 55 tonnes, 90 tonnes, 130 tonnes and 220 tonnes. Some 120,000 BelAZ giants are working is more than 50 countries of the world. But it is the 320-tonne model that has opened the door to the exclusive club of automotive producers, as there are about a hundred vehicles of the type in the world.

This achievement attests to the high scientific and technical potential of the country and its automotive industry.

Belarusian Automobile Plant was built near Minsk some 50 years ago. Since then the country has developed a unique school of designers and manufacturers of open-cut transport. There is a special research center in Zhodino, a town that grew around the plant, which collaborates with the National Academy of Sciences to apply the latest developments. The task for the near future is to increase the capacity of the giant vehicles to one million kilometers. The general director of the company, Pavel Mariyev, Doctor of Engineering Science, is himself a talented inventor and researcher. He was elected member of the international academy of technologies not long ago. By the way, the plant has carried out a “rejuvenation” campaign and installed 300 modern machine-tools to replace 450 outdated machines.

The Zhodino-based plant is flexible enough to cater for any type of clients throughout the globe. BelAZ dump trucks may be equipped with either hydraulic or electromechanical transmission, the main components, including engines, are produced by the leading manufacturers of the world, and the best steel is used to produce hulls. Belarusian trucks work at a temperature of minus 50C and plus 45C, at heights up to 1,200 meters and in mines deeper than 600 meters.

Mining operations are on the rise in the world, and the tendency is likely to remain for at least ten years, so the demand for efficient mine trucks and other types of machinery will naturally be rising, especially for trucks with a very high load-carrying capability. BelAZ has made over 700 trucks with capacities exceeding 100 tonnes (130–136 tonnes and 220 tonnes). BelAZ has been awarded a large contract to supply its trucks to China as a result of an international tender, and the first batch of trucks has been shipped to Australia. Latin America with its well-developed and still developing mining industry is the next outlet on the schedule. Belarus has already found a foothold in the region — Venezuela. A large delegation of Belarus’ official has paid a visit to Venezuela recently, and Pavel Mariyev was a part of it. “Venezuela struck us by a very well developed open-cast mining,” the general director of BelAZ shared his impressions with reporters in Minsk. “Venezuela is now using mine trucks produced by western companies, but we have reached an agreement on a trial purchase of BelAZ with various carrying capacities,” Pavel Mariyev added.

BelAZ plans to produce about 1,700 heavy mine trucks this year, compared with 1,400 in 2005. Next year will see a further 10% rise in output, according to the plans of the company, as the stock of orders has already been formed.

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