Heavy earthmoving equipment specialists National Plant & Equipment (NPE) have delivered the first of their two new Liebherr R 996B excavators to Fortescue Metals Group's Christmas Creek mine site.

Fortescue is the first to secure the rental of these world-class machines as part of the company's continued commitment to improving productivity and efficiency across its operations. 

The acquisition of two Liebherr R 996Bs are yet another addition to an ever-increasing portfolio of industry leading mining equipment, providing the industry with not only the access to, but also the flexibility to be able to scale-up and down as production allows.

After arriving in Perth from Liebherr's manufacturing facility in France in late June, the first excavator began a four-week pre-assembly by Liebherr. From there, the large load was transported by National Heavy Haulage from Perth to Christmas Creek, at which point the final assembly took place on site before being handed over to Fortescue to go to work in early September. 

"The mining industry is in a really good place at the moment and is continuing to go from strength to strength, therefore bringing these excavators down under was a logical choice," said Mark Ackroyd, National Group's CEO and managing director.

The Liebherr R 996B is renowned as an outstanding piece of equipment all over the world with the ability to achieve the most challenging targets in the most demanding conditions.

The machine is equipped with two V16 Cummins engines specifically designed to withstand extreme environments and to minimise downtime, along with a high-pressure hydraulic system and optimised pipe and hose layout to maximise operational efficiency. 

Liebherr recently celebrated the R 996B's sustained success over time with the 150th machine of its kind being built and its 18th birthday as the very first R 996 was released back in 2000. 

"It's no secret that business is built on great relationships, so to continue our valued partnership with the team at Fortescue is something that is very important to us," Ackroyd added.

NPE's already large fleet is about to get even bigger with confirmation of new equipment arriving in the country every month for at least the remainder of 2018, including the second of these excavator's, which will arrive in late September.

Fortescue will fit the new machine with a Cat MineStar Terrain Package receiver, allowing it to interact with other Caterpillar 793F autonomous dump trucks. The excavator will enable it to send signals to Fortescue's autonomous trucks via GPS sensors to move into position to receive a load.