Caterpillar produces 5,000th mining truck

Caterpillar recently produced its 5,000th mining truck at its manufacturing plant in Decatur, Ill. The 5000th truck was a 380-ton-capacity 797B, which is the largest and newest model of the company’s mining trucks.

Over the past two decades Caterpillar has produced various models of mining trucks, which the company defines as trucks with a payload capacity of 130 tons or more. The first large mining truck, the 785, had an original capacity of 130 tons and debuted in 1984. Two years later, Caterpillar released the 170- to 195-ton-capactiy 789 model. By 1996, sales of the 789 grew to nearly half the worldwide market.

Because mining companies were requesting trucks that could haul more and reduce their cost per ton, the 240-ton-capacity 793 mining truck was introduced in 1991. In 1998 Caterpillar unveiled the 797 with a payload of 360 tons, making it the largest mechanical-drive truck in the world.

In 2002, the company introduced the second-generation 797B, with its target payload of 380 tons in the standard 290-cubic-yard body. Its lighter body design, according to Caterpillar, can increase payload up to 400 tons. With a gross operating weight of 1,375,000 pounds, the 797B can move effectively at a top speed of 42 mph with a 24-cylinder Cat engine that produces 3,550 horsepower.

Caterpillar’s 5,000th mining truck will soon be sent to northern Chile, where the machine will join a fleet of 797s in the Escondida copper mine, which produces more copper than any other mine in the world.