The Volvo fleet at work on the site.

Volvo’s machines are playing a crucial role in reviving a quarry that has supplied quality aggregates used in the Burj Khalifa super skyscraper and rock armour for Dubai’s Palm Islands.  

With the financial crisis of 2008, a number of quarries in the Northern Emirates fell silent. One such quarry was operated by Unimix, where a team of experienced mining experts from Ireland are now engaged in bringing world-class quarrying practices.

The quarry, which has been operating at a low level since 2008, was taken over by Global Crushing Solutions (GCS) in 2014. 

Bolstered by major contracts with leading cement and readymix companies, the core team – supported by an existing workforce of 82 people – have set to work on the site. But before they could start extracting the 200 million tonnes of limestone and 20 million tonnes of red shale in the current licence, the site operations including the equipment needed a complete overhaul.

“We inherited more of a machine graveyard than a fleet of serviceable machines,” said Brian Kearney, a member of the team. “Using simulation software, our analysis told us we needed 16 pieces of good quality mobile equipment in order to do the job properly.”

Then came a series of negotiations with the leading brands, with Volvo ultimately offering the most compelling package of product, support, finance – and delivery times.

“Volvo’s dealer Famco was able to deliver the machines in just three weeks – including trained operators,” said Kearney. 

The fleet now includes two 70-tonne Volvo EC700C excavators that handle primary loading at the face. A 48-tonne EC480C excavator works in support, fitted with a breaker to reduce extra-large rocks, as well as general site development duties.

Seven 35-tonne A35F articulated haulers then haul the material 1.4 km to the crusher, achieving the round trip in a little over nine minutes. Waiting for them are five L220G wheel loaders, which load the finished product of 5 mm, 10 mm and 20 mm aggregate onto the 260 trucks that will enter the site each day when up to full production.

The team is also bringing world-class environmental practices to the site – a great relief to the 800 residents of a nearby village. These include sound barriers and water suppression systems. 

Safety is also a high priority and includes thorough machine training, speed restrictions, widening of haul roads and a reduction in their steepness. All machines are fitted with flashing beacons and fire extinguishers, while the haulers (and soon the loaders) are also fitted with reversing cameras.