Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Tue 15 Dec 2020

Girl Power on the World’s Largest Wheeled Loader

Being the operator of the worlds largest wheeled loading shovel must be something great to have on the CV, for one Swedish woman, its something she is very proud to have on hers.

Girl Power on the World’s Largest Wheeled Loader

The Boliden Aitik mine which is Sweden’s largest open pit copper mines, is located just south of Gällivare in Northern Sweden, is home to some of the largest mining equipment in the world. As we have come to expect from our friends in the Nordic regions, Aitik is a very gender-neutral working place with virtually half of their machinery fleet being operated by women

The woman at the controls of the giant 270-tonne Komatsu L-2350 is Gunilla Hansson who has been operating giant machines since 2002. Prior to taking the position on the Komatsu (Previously the Le Tourneau L-2350) she was operating the Caterpillar 994 which is no small machine in itself!

Photos courtesy of the Boliden Facebook page.

The bucket on the L-2350 holds 38 cubic metres, which weighs in at around 70 tonnes, talking about operating the machine Gunnila said, “It is big and very effective, and yes it feels massive when you are loading trucks, you certainly notice that it’s a massive load going into the truck each time, it doesn’t take too many scoops for the trucks to be loaded, and they are massive too of course!”.

Before taking on the “Beast” Gunnila had to attend some courses on daily maintenance and operation, but she explained, “It's not really something specific, you look at the oil on this just like you would on the other machines”.

“A very specific thing for me with this machine, is that I find it to be very stable, you can have the bucket high without getting any feeling that you could overturn. You can drive on uneven surfaces without feeling uncertain, it is nice, not least because it just has such a big scoop ".

It is a harsh environment in the mine not just in terms of the hard materials but also in its location it suffers from extremely cold weather for much of the year, but the Swedes are well geared up for it!

It’s definitely one on my bucket list for a visit one of these days, hopefully during the tough winter season, which I’m sure would make the experience even better! And I would love to meet Gunnila to talk in depth about her job operating this giant machine!

Discover more about the Aitik mine in this video from Boliden below, its 10 years old now, but still provides a great overview of what goes on up there! 

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