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High-altitude earthmoving

An unusual earthmoving project has taken place 2,800m up in the mountainous Savoy region of south-east France where a Case Alliance 9033 hydraulic excavator prepared foundations for a new cable-car station at Aiguille Rouge.

Contractors Boch FrŠres, specialists in high-altitude earthmoving projects, bought the Case 9033 as the company's front-line machine to form ski-runs and create foundations for ski-lifts and cable-cars. Working regularly at high altitutde, Boch FrŠres knew that because of the late start on this particular scheme, they had only a short timescale in which to undertake the task before the onset of snowy conditions. In only five weeks it was necessary to move 25,000m3 of material, 93% of which consisted of rock, and to build the foundation platform.

With a 33-tonne operating weight, the 9033, equipped with a 6.45m boom, a 2.5m dipper and an extra-heavy-duty bucket, removed the rock and stockpiled it ready for a 50-tonne dozer to push it about 100m so as to leave the area clear.

Some of the excavated material, comprising boulders too large to be handled, had to be blasted into smaller pieces, an operation requiring a precise blasting technique given the area's proximity to an existing, fully operational cable-car station.

As rapid progress was made, the 9033 had to move frequently and climb steep slopes over rough ground. This was possible due to the excavator's long and wide undercarriage, together with a tractive force of 23,000daN, allowing it to climb slopes of 70% in complete safety and to operate on sites with difficult access.

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