News | 09/12/2023 Restored, not retired: Liebherr R 996 mining excavator overhauled for maximum service life

In late July, a fully refurbished R 996 excavator went to work at Yancoal’s Cameby Downs mine in Queensland, Australia. This machine had originally served at Yancoal’s Yarrabee mine for almost 13 years before the mining company made the decision to completely overhaul the machine.

Yancoal’s newly refurbished R 996 excavator working hard at the Cameby Downs mine in Queensland, Australia.

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Yancoal – an Australian-based coal producer and developer – first received this R 996 in late 2010 at its Yarrabee mine in Blackwater, Queensland. Over the course of the excavator’s more than 70,000 hours on site, the machine was responsible for moving more than 110 million bank cubic metres of material. When the R 996 was approaching the end of its service life, Yancoal made the decision to entirely refurbish the machine, rather than retire it.

The journey to refurbishment

Yancoal’s overhaul of the R 996 took a little over three months to complete. After the excavator was stood down at the Yarrabee site, it was broken into its modules and then sent to Mackay, where the modules were further disassembled. While some parts remained in Mackay to be refurbished by specialists in the area, the engine modules were sent on to Liebherr’s Mount Thorley branch in New South Wales. During this time, the Liebherr and Yancoal teams remained in close communication to ensure that the project remained on schedule.

“The machine needed to be in the dirt by early July,” explains Greg Woolard, Production Manager for Cameby Downs. “We met with Liebherr on a daily basis – sometimes more – to double check the lead times for parts to ensure that the deadline was met.”

Once the refurbishment process was complete, all modules were sent to Cameby Downs, where the R 996 was then reassembled. The newly overhauled machine – affectionately called 007 on site – is now working to boost the productivity of the mine by removing the top layers of overburden in the pit.

“We can definitely see the changes 007 has made on site,” says Woolard. “It has really helped us to expedite our critical path.”

A new life for the R 996

Now that the R 996 has been given a new lease on life, this veteran excavator is expected to reach a further 30,000 working hours; a fact that impresses but doesn’t surprise Matt Charley, Excavator Specialist for Liebherr Australia’s Technical Support Group.

“It isn’t uncommon to see our R 996 excavators reach 100,000 working hours or more once they have been reconditioned,” says Charley. “In Australia, the longest serving R 996 has bypassed 98,000 service hours and in Indonesia, there is a machine that has almost reached 148,000 hours! Both machines are still going strong.”

The R 996 was first introduced to the market in 1996 and was the biggest and most advanced mining excavator of the Liebherr portfolio at the time. Despite entering the market more than 25 years ago, there are still dozens of units in operation in countries all over the world, with the majority of these in Australia.

“The R 996 is known throughout the mining sector for its reliability and durability as well as its performance on site,” says Charley.


Swann Blaise

General Manager Marketing

Liebherr Mining Equipment Newport News Co.

4100 Chestnut Ave.

Newport News, VA 23607