Extraordinary heavy truck-trailer combinations from Sweden’s remote north are set to increase their numbers in style


By Martin Phippard
PHOTOGRAPHY Eksjö Maskin & Truck / Scania Trucks

A new breed of big beast is roaming the forests of Northern Sweden, and their numbers are multiplying rapidly. But although these giants are half as big again as those routinely encountered, they are not causing any problems for the local inhabitants. Indeed, they are being welcomed into the community.

The ‘beasts’ are in fact heavy truck-trailer combinations designed to operate at a gross weight of 90 tonnes. This is 30 tonnes more than the maximum of 60 tonnes usually applicable throughout Sweden. However, an agreement reached between Northland Resources SA and the Swedish Transport Authority (STA) will eventually see the use of up to 400 similar combinations in the remote northern tip of the country.

Special dispensation will allow the purpose-built vehicles to operate on a designated route between a new ore processing plant in Kaunisvaara and a railhead at Pitkajarvi, near Svappavaara. The weight concession was first approved in November 2012, and must be renewed annually throughout the life of the contract, which ends in 2021.

Trials conducted by Cliffton Mining (the haulage contractor), Northland Resources and Scania demonstrated that in the remote region of Sweden (well inside the Arctic Circle), the road network could safely accommodate large numbers of 90-tonne vehicles. The area is sparsely populated, and the unusually heavy combinations are not expected to have negative impact local traffic.

Northland – an iron ore mining company with sites throughout Northern Sweden and Finland – expects to produce 1.4 million tonnes of high-grade ore concentrate from the new processing plant in Kaunisvaara, in 2013. This figure is expected to rise to four million tonnes by the third quarter of 2014.

Volvo L220G bucket loaders used to load the 90-tonne combinations

Bulk loads
Producing such huge volumes is one thing, but transporting them is another. And Northland was also faced with the difficulty of having to move the product in an area with no existing transport infrastructure. Pitkajarvi is the nearest railhead, so ore would be hauled there by truck, then trans-shipped to a rail line connecting to the port of Narvik, on the north-west coast of Norway.

Existing road transport legislation in Sweden already permits seven-axle combinations to operate at weights up to 60 tonnes gross, but in recent years the STA has allowed a few special multi-axle combinations to work at weights of up to 90 tonnes. So, when Northland entered negotiations with Cliffton and the STA, a precedent had already been set.

The 90-tonnners employed by Cliffton comprise an 8×4 Scania R730 rigid with single-tyre rear axle, tri-axle dolly, and tri-axle semi-trailer. The combination measures almost 25 m in length, and axle loadings are only marginally higher than those of a conventional 60-tonne, seven-axle rig.


May CoverRead the rest of this feature in the May issue of Trucking – available here