Views on commodities and energy
Women drivers better than men in the mining monster trucks
One of the unexpected findings from executives and analysts attending the CESCO and CRU copper conferences in Santiago, Chile: Women are better drivers than men in those house-sized trucks roaming surface mines around the world. They’re said to be more cautious and that reduces wear and tear on the 13 feet-high tires they rumble around on.
Watch this video uploaded to YouTube to see the monster-of-monster trucks in action.
The largest of these trucks, manufactured by Caterpillar, Komatsu of Japan and Germany’s Liebherr, can carry almost 350 tonnes. Each tire can cost up to $125,000 but they can easily be flattened by a fist-sized stone wedged in its treads.
To avoid blowing a tire, a mine might reduce the bucket load even when operating full-out to keep up with global copper demand. Light trucks will speed ahead of the big ones and radio in debris on the mine roadbed. “You get guys jumping out of vehicles throwing stones off the road,” one analyst told me.
More women are getting hired anyway and not just to drive trucks. With the copper industry booming, both tires and workers are in short supply. Copper prices are near records but so are operating costs.
Yet even in Australia, with its macho image, at one large mine, reportedly the truck drivers are 60 percent female and 40 percent male. In the superstitious old days they said women were back luck at a mine. Today, it seems they’re a charm.