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What to See at ConExpo 2017: Caterpillar, Volvo and Terramac in the Gold Hall/Lot

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The big show is fast approaching, and ConExpo exhibitors have given us a sneak peek into what they’ll have in store for those attending the March 7-11 massive exhibition.  To view previous preview entries for ConExpo 2017 click here. Here’s the spotlight on three exhibitors in the Gold Hall/Lot areas:

Caterpillar, booth G-4490


The M317F wheeled excavator has a compact radius design that expands the versatility of the machine working in tight spaces. It will represent Cat’s new F Series line. (Caterpillar also has an indoor exhibit in the North Hall, N-10924.)

Other equipment on display: The 950GC wheel loader, which will be compared to the full-featured 950M; the Cat Command remote control system for the D8T; a 988K wheel loader with Cat Command; the 309.9D Versatile Power System with H25 Hammer; and 304.5E2 Extra Tool carrier, which includes a skid steer loader coupler interface in place of a traditional dozer blade.

Booth activities: In-booth teleremote control of a D8T dozer working near Peoria, Illinois. Demonstrations of line-of-sight remote control systems for skid steers.

Volvo Construction Equipment, booth G-3894


In its outdoor booth, Volvo will showcase its compact equipment and attachments, including the EC60Ecompact excavator. (Volvo’s indoor display is in the North Hall, booth N-10036.)

Booth activities: Pan for gold with stars of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush and get photos and autographs from the crew. Win cash prizes in hands-on contests on the two compact excavators. Experience what it’s like to steer a crew on the high seas with the Volvo Ocean Race simulated game.

Terramac, booth G-1716


Four Terramac crawler carriers will be on display, including the RT14R (pictured), along with several attachments, including a hydroseeder for environmental restoration and a digger derrick. The company’s rubber track technology enables units to exert the low ground pressure necessary for environmental work even at full capacity. Flotation from the units’ rubber tracks leave a minimal footprint while also reducing slippage in rugged terrain.

Booth activities: Product demonstrations and the unveiling of a new crawler carrier.

Gold Price: ETF Investors Start 2017 With Massive Offload


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Gold made the most of the first full trading day of the year, jumping to a three-week high, but investors in gold exchange traded funds continued to dump the metal in huge numbers.

Gold for delivery in February, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York, hit a high of $1,166 an ounce in late morning trade, before paring some of those gains to settle at the highest level since December 14.

Gold is up nearly $40 an ounce since hitting post-election lows of $1,124 mid-December, but remains down nearly $180 from an initial but brief surge on election night.

Since the election investors in top physical gold-backed exchange traded fund – SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) – have dumped a net 135.8 tonnes. Since November 9, GLD has not enjoyed a single day of net purchases – on Tuesday, investors pulled out another 8.3 tonnes of the yellow metal.

GLD dwarfs other physically-backed gold ETFs holding more than 45% of the global total. GLD vaults now hold 813.5 tonnes or 26.2 million ounces; worth just over $30.1 billion. That’s down more than $13 billion from the 2016 peak hit early July as the gold price retreats and investors liquidate their holdings.

GOLD: Barrick Puts Wi-Fi Underground at Cortez Mine

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NEVADA – One of the first mines to benefit from Barrick Gold’s decision to go digital across all its operations is the Cortez gold mine 100 km southwest of Elko. Here the company has installed Wi-Fi underground with many potential productivity benefits.

Barrick described the benefits in the recent issue of Beyond Borders:

Building an underground Wi-Fi network expands the amount of data that can be collected and analyzed from underground. For example, operators will be able to track data such as equipment and personnel locations in real time, the number of bucket scoops per haul truck and where ore is going.

Safety will also be bolstered, as Wi-Fi will facilitate the use of tele-remote and autonomous technology that will allow miners to operate equipment from the surface via remote control. This will enhance safety because it will significantly reduce the amount of time miners spend underground, reducing their exposure to mining related risks. The use of these technologies will also minimize interruptions in the mining cycle because mine personnel won’t have to be cleared from the underground in order to blast. Wi-Fi will also allow the installation of technology that empowers shift supervisors to more efficiently deploy personnel and equipment at the beginning of a shift. This will reduce shift changeover and start-up times.

In terms of maintenance, the goal is to provide on-demand service in real time. If a piece of equipment breaks down, communication with a subject expert or vendor located on surface, or even off site, via a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet, will be possible. The expert will be able to see the equipment, help identify the issue and deliver a solution. If required, a part could be ordered directly through the mine’s Oracle database system from the tablet that the underground technician is using. The work order would be processed automatically, and the service disruption would be kept to a minimum. While full integration of back office systems is the longer term goal, underground operators are already able to communicate with and receive support from experts in Elko – or anywhere else in the world –  using real-time video chat.

To enable Wi-Fi underground, Barrick partnered with Cisco to standardize equipment and create a robust network that is simple to install. No specialized equipment or specialists are needed to install it.

Network cables were threaded 365 metres below the earth’s surface. These cables connect to one of six main distribution frames that service different levels of the mine. These frames collect data from different equipment underground such as pumps and air quality stations. Internet connectivity is delivered via the access points, which are made by Cisco. The access points transmit Wi-Fi signals approximately 100 metres, from one point to the next. However, as the system goes into the deeper, in parts of the mine where access points are farther from the distribution frame, data transmission speed is reduced.

To resolve this issue, copper wiring was used to buttress data transmission speeds between access points when the network was first rolled out. However, it is more costly and difficult to install than fiber or cat 5e wiring, a type of Ethernet cable.

Another challenge is to maintain data transmission speeds with equipment operating on the fringes of the network. The introduction of a combination of fiber optic cables and battery solutions is used to resolve the problem. The fiber optic cables will maintain data transmission speeds and also power access points. Specialized batteries that can last up to seven days will power portable access points installed on the equipment itself. This will allow equipment to transmit data from the rock face while maintaining data throughput speeds.

New Year’s Day – The History, Traditions and Customs

Happy New Year’s Day!

New Year’s Day is a national holiday celebrated on January 1st, the first day of the New Year, following both the Gregorian and the Julian calendar. The New Years’ holiday is often marked by fireworks, parades, and reflection upon the last year while looking ahead to the future’s possibilities. Many people celebrate New Year’s in the company of loved ones, involving traditions meant to bring luck and success in the upcoming year. Many Cultures celebrate this happy day in their own unique way. Typically the customs and traditions of New Years involve celebrating with champagne and a variety of different foods. New Years marks a date of newly found happiness and a clean slate. For many celebrating New Years, it is their opportunity to learn from the prior year and make positive changes in their life.

New Year’s Day Holiday History

New Year’s is one of the oldest holidays still celebrated, but the exact date and nature of the festivities has changed over time. It originated over 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, celebrated as an eleven day festival on the first day of spring. During this time, many cultures used the sun and moon cycle to decide the “first” day of the year. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that January 1st became the common day for the celebration. The festivities have varied as well. While early celebrations were more paganistic in nature, in the twentieth century, the holiday grew into its own celebration and mostly separated from the common association with religion. It has become a holiday associated with nationality, relationships, and introspection rather than a religious celebration, although many people do still follow older traditions.

New Year’s Day Resolutions and Traditions

While celebrations vary all over the world, common traditions include:

    • Making resolutions or goals to improve one’s life.
    • Common resolutions concern diet, exercise, bad habits, and other issues concerning personal wellness. A common view is to use the first day of the year as a clean slate to improve one’s life.
    • A gathering of loved ones: Here you’ll typically find champagne, feasting, confetti, noise makers, and other methods of celebration including: fireworks, parades and concerts.
    • Famous parades include London’s New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Superstitions concerning food or visitors to bring luck.

This especially includes circle-shaped foods, which symbolize coming full-circle. The reasoning behind superstitions is that the first day of the year sets precedent for the following days. A common superstition specific to New Year’s Day concerns a household’s first visitor of the year—tradition states that if a tall, dark-haired stranger is the first to walk through your door, called the First Footer or Lucky Bird, you’ll have good luck all year. Also, if you want to subscribe to superstition, don’t let anything leave the house on New Year’s, except for people. Tradition say’s: don’t take out the trash and leave anything you want to take out of the house on New Year’s outside the night before. If you must remove something, make sure to replace it by bringing an item into the house. These policies of balance apply in other areas as well—avoiding paying bills, breaking anything, or shedding tears.

    • Toasting

Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. In coastal regions, running into a body of water or splashing water on one another, symbolizing the cleansing, “rebirth” theme associated with the holiday.

However, many nations and cultures within them have their own characteristic way of celebrating:

New Years Food

American Citizens often celebrate with a party featuring toasting, drinking and fireworks late into the night before the New Year, where the gathering counts down the final seconds to January 1st. Some might even get a kiss at midnight. Many English speaking countries play “Auld Lang Syne,” a song celebrating the year’s happy moments. Americans often make resolutions and watch the Time Square Ball drop in New York City. Although much of this celebration occurs the night before, the merrymaking typically continues to New Year’s Day. Football is a common fixture on New Year’s Day in America, usually the day of the Rose Bowl. Some foods considered “lucky” to eat during the festivities include:

Circular shaped foods
Black-eyed peas

New Years France

The French typically celebrate New Year’s with a feast and a champagne toast, marking the first moments of New Year’s Day with kisses under the mistletoe, which most other cultures associate with Christmas celebrations. The French also consider the day’s weather as a forecast for the upcoming year’s harvest, taking into account aspects like wind direction to predict the fruitfulness of crops and fishing.

New Years Phillipines

In the Philippines, celebrations are very loud, believing that the noise will scare away evil beings. There is often a midnight feast featuring twelve different round fruits to symbolize good luck for the twelve months of the year. Other traditional foods include sticky rice and noodles, but not chicken or fish because these animals are food foragers, which can be seen as bad luck for the next year’s food supply.

New Years Greece

Greeks celebrate New Year’s Day with card games and feasting. At midnight, the lights are turned off, followed by the Basil’s Pie, which contains a coin. Whoever gets the piece of pie containing the coin wins luck for the next year.

New Years Soviet Union

The Soviet Union’s New Year’s Day celebrations have been greatly affected by the Union’s history. As religion was suppressed and Christmas celebrations were banned, New Year’s, or Novi God celebrations often include Christmas traditions such as decorated trees, which were reconsidered as New Year Fir Trees. As the suppression left, these traditions stayed part of the New Year’s Day celebration. The holiday is also celebrated with feasts, champagne, and wishes.

New Years Spain

Spaniards celebrate New Year’s Day with the custom of eating twelve grapes, each eaten at a clock-stroke at midnight.

Cold-Water Plunges

In colder countries close to water, such as Canada, parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, it is customary to organize cold-water plunges. These plunges and races, sometimes called a Polar Bear Plunge, often raise money for charity or awareness for a cause.

For thousands of years, New Year’s has been a festival of rebirth and reflection, allowing people all over the world to celebrate another great year.

New Year’s Song

The song, “Auld Lang Syne,” is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. Written by Robert Burns in the 1700’s, it was first published in 1796 after Burns’ death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long ago,” or simply, “the good old days.” For the lyrics click here:


Revolution-Era New York Mine Could Produce Hydro Power


Mine in Mineville, 100 miles from Albany, contributed iron for one of the first naval battles of the Revolutionary War

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Flooding a mine is a closure strategy that mining companies often use as part of a rehabilitation plan usually decided at the beginning of a mine’s operating life.

Once the tunnels are flooded, the mine and its workings become submerged, not just in a physical sense but in the minds of the public, who then regard that mine as finished, and the lake that fills the former pit probably assigned a recreational use.

An abandoned mine in New York state seemed to be destined to a similar, ignominious fate, but for a group of engineers who saw the historically-significant iron ore mine serving a more useful purpose.

The engineers are “pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground,” reads a story about the centuries-old mine, located in the Adirondacks mountains of upstate New York, carried by Associated Press.

The mine which closed in 1971 apparently notched its mark on history for contributing iron for one of the first naval battles of the Revolutionary War on nearby Lake Champlain. According to Wikipedia, the Battle of Valcour Island, also known as the Battle of Valcour Bay, took place on October 11, 1776, on Lake Champlain. Some more colour is provided by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which sets the stage for the battle on its website:

The American fleet, commanded by Arnold, consisted of eight gondolas, three row galleys, two schooners, one sloop, one cutter and bateaux. The vessels in the British fleet were not only larger with better sailing characteristics, but they were also crewed by professional sailors under the command of skilled naval officers.

Electricity produced from the turbines would feed into current solar and wind producers, who lack a source of uninterrupted power, according to AP:

Engineers would drain roughly half of the water from the shafts and pump the remainder into an upper chamber. The water would then be released into a lower chamber, powering turbines and creating electricity. The turbines would be reversed to pump the water back up to repeat the process.

The project is basically an underground version of big outdoor projects that rely on the same principle. The New York Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Project in the Catskills and the proposed Eagle Mountain project in southern California, for example, use outdoor, hilltop lakes as the upper reservoirs.

While pumped hydro power has been used for decades in the United States as the primary source of energy storage used to meet periods of peak electricity demand, mines are not typically used as reservoirs. If approved by federal authorities, the Mineville Pumped Storage Project would be one the first of its kind in America. AP points out that a similar project has been proposed for an abandoned mine and quarry in Elmhurst, Illinois.

North of the border, Northland Power is considering a pumped power project involving a decommissioned open-pit iron ore mine on the former Bethlehem Steel site between Ottawa and Toronto. The Marmora Pumped Storage facility would produce 400 megawatts of electricity for five hours, and create a waterfall nearly five times the height of Niagara Falls, Clean Technica reported in 2013.

Descend Into The World’s Deepest Gold Mine

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The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

Humans will do almost anything for gold.

In fact, they will even suspend themselves 2.5 miles into the Earth – braving extreme temperatures, armed thieves, and constant seismic activity – just to mine a 30-inch gold reef.

Welcome to another day at Mponeng, the world’s deepest gold mine.

The Depths of the Witwatersrand

If you own any gold, there is about a 50% chance it comes from the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. Gold was first discovered there in 1886, and it is speculated that the discovery may have only been possible because of an asteroid impact. The Vredefort crater, the world’s largest impact crater at about 200 miles in diameter, is now 2.02 billion years old and potentially helped reveal the Witwatersrand gold outcrops.

The Mponeng gold mine, located west of Johannesburg and owned by AngloGold Ashanti, takes advantage of some of the deepest and richest areas of this deposit. Mponeng also represents the extent to which people are willing to go to take advantage of this region’s unparalleled mineral wealth.

Going Down…

Each day, roughly 4,000 miners take the plunge to get to the bottom of the mine. The journey includes taking the world’s tallest elevator, which hits a top speed at 40 mph, to make their way down.

That far into the Earth’s crust, conditions are intense. Rock walls in the Mponeng mine reach temperatures of 140°F (60°C) and humidity levels often exceed 95%. To keep things cool, the mine uses a novel cooling system to manage temperatures. Over 6,000 tonnes of ice slurry are pumped into underground reservoirs, and giant fans help to spread the air flow.

Every day, about 5,000 lbs of explosives are blasted in the mine, and 6,400 tonnes of rock are excavated.

Breaking New Ground

Gold production at the world’s deepest gold mine has been declining each year, so miners going even deeper to try and get gold.

The continued search for gold in Mponeng has led to scientific discoveries. A bacterium called Desulforudis audaxviator was found in groundwater – and it’s quite unique. The bacterium exists independently from the sun, using energy from natural radioactivity to create food. Some experts think that similar life forms could exist on other planets.

The wealth of the mine has also created an unusual crime problem. Armed, illegal miners called “ghost miners” descend into the mine for months at a time, which turns their skin pale due to a lack of sunlight. This has helped create an underground (pun intended!) marketplace, where legitimate miners profit from the ghost miners’ existence. They can sell a $1 loaf of bread for $12 underground, where it is in high demand.

Mission Accomplished

At the bottom of the world’s deepest gold mine, there is a 30-inch seam of gold called the Ventersdorp Contact Reef.

This is what the miners came for, but soon they will have to dig even deeper. In fact, plans are already in place to tap into neighboring gold reefs, which would extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.


Massive 3,000-year-old Celtic gold belt found in British farmer’s field

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A huge 3,000-year-old Celtic golden belt, so large that it’s believed to have been worn by a pregnant woman or a prized animal in the course of a sacrifice, has been unearthed in a Cambridgeshire field, in Eastern England.

According to the British Museum, the torc is one of the largest and most spectacular ever discovered in England, and it is one of thousands of archaeological finds made by members of the public last year.

The thick twisted band, found by an anonymous treasure hunter walking with his metal detector, is made from 730 grams of high-grade gold.

While torcs are usually described as collars, longer ones are believed to have been worn as belts. For the Iron Age Celts, the gold torc seems to have been a key object, identifying the wearer as a person of high rank, and many of the finest works of ancient Celtic art are, in fact, torcs.


Zinc shoots to 8-year high on expected metal deficit

Mine closures pushing up the price

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The last time the benchmark zinc price was this high, Americans were in the throws of an election that saw Barack Obama defeat George W. Bush.

Worries about mine closures have sent the metal used for galvanizing steel on a wild ride; the benchmark zinc price rose 2.1% today to $2,725 a tonne, which is the highest it’s been since March of 2008. The 30-day spot zinc price was at $1.20 a pound, 11.2% higher than it was a month ago. Chinese funds in particular are piling into zinc.


Apart from steelmaking raw materials iron ore and coking coal, zinc is the best performing mined commodity in 2016; the benchmark price has nearly doubled (up 90%) since it fell to a 6.5-year low in January of $1,444.40 a tonne.

What’s driving the surge? Mine closures. Last year two major mines closed – Australia’s Century and the Lisheen mine in Ireland. The two mines had a combined output of more than 630,000 tonnes. The shuttering of top zinc producer Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) depleted Brunswick and Perseverance mines in Canada in 2012 brings total tonnes going offline since 2013 to more than a million tonnes.

At the end of October Glencore added another lead and zinc mine to the list, its Black Star open-pit mine at Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia.

Reuters survey predicts the zinc market will be in deficit this year by 400,000 tonnes, which portends more good news for the price. Although, dark clouds could be swirling for zinc bulls in the form of zinc inventories built up in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. Reuters notes that Macquarie, an Australian investment bank, estimates 1.4 million tonnes of zinc could trickle into the market, thus offsetting the expected supply deficit.

Shanghai Metals Market (SMM), a Chinese market intelligence site, is sanguine on the zinc price for the medium term, predicting that zinc smelters may have to suspend production in the first quarter of 2017 due to falling material inventories.

This may help LME zinc breach $3,000 per tonne, $3,500 per tonne, or even higher. Nonetheless, there are still some uncertainties from macroeconomic front, such as liquidity, investment, US dollar and Chinese yuan’s trend, according to SMM.


Gold Price Is Tumbling, Iron Ore Price Leaps, Warnings As Copper Price Surge Continues

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Gold dropped to a five-month low Friday as the post-election price surge collapsed and investors redirect funds into industrial commodities and the stock market.

Gold for delivery in December dropped to a session low of $1,223.40 an ounce in morning trading on the Comex market in New York, down over $40 an ounce or 3% from Thursday’s close.

The metal touched a high of $1,338 late on Tuesday, but the rally in record volumes for the Comex market, soon evaporated.

The Financial Times reports a number of prominent hedge fund managers and billionaires running family offices have moved aggressively out of gold and into stocks following the election.

The gold price has an inverse correlation to interest rates as the metal is not income producing and investors have to rely on price appreciation for returns. Higher interest rates also boosts the dollar which usually move in the opposite direction of the gold price.

Gold stayed on the defensive, beset by enhanced growth expectations as… investors took on the view that the pro-growth policies of a new administration were good for paper assets


Gold’s performance is in stark contrast to predictions ahead of the election with many analysts seeing gold reaching $1,500 or beyond, citing increased safe haven buying as a major reason behind an upswing.

The rise in bond yields is not good for gold unless accompanied by a similar rise in inflation. The chart below shows that the move so far in 10-year bond yields has seen the real yield rise to 0.25% – the highest level since June.

Low real yields have provided a major source of support for gold this year, but depending on inflation expectations, this source of support has at least for now been sharply reduced.

Rising US bond yields and the brewing emerging markets crisis has seen strong demand for dollars post the election, and this marks yet another gold-negative development.


Rising US bond yields and the brewing emerging markets crisis has seen strong demand for dollars post the election, and this marks yet another gold-negative development

The import price of 62% Fe content ore at the port of Tianjin surged 7.4% to $79.70 per dry metric tonne on Thursday as the US presidential election added fuel to the fire of iron ore’s almost a month of unbroken gains.


According to The Steel Index an unnamed Australian miner sold 62% Fe Newman fines on the globalORE platform for $80.65.

Lower grade fines at the port of Qingdao shot up a whopping 12.4% on Friday to trade at $68.20 a tonne. 58% Fe content iron ore has risen 36% over the last four weeks while 65% Fe at the same Chinese port jumped to $91.70 a tonne.

On the Dalian Commodities Exchange in China iron ore futures again reached it’s daily price change limit of 6% to trade at over $90 a tonne.


While gold’s initial rally following the US presidential election has evaporated, the rally in industrial metals continued on Friday with the copper price jumping to a 17-month high.


In pre-regular hours trade on Friday copper for delivery in December gained 4% from Thursday’s close trading as high as $2.6525 per pound ($5,847 a tonne) in New York, the highest since mid-June 2015.

Copper has risen during 14 of the last 15 trading sessions, adding 27% in the process. After underperforming other metals and steelmaking raw materials in 2016, copper is now firmly in bull market territory with a 24.5% rise year-to-date.

The current upturn in the copper price is vulnerable to a correction in investor sentiment or profit-taking

In a research note Capital Economics cautions copper bulls that despite encouraging signs of falling warehouse stocks and the effect of recent production outages, the current upturn in the copper price is vulnerable to a correction in investor sentiment or profit-taking.



Product of the Week: Caterpillar’s updated 992K wheel loader

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Caterpillar says its recently updated Cat 992K Wheel Loader is designed to lower fuel costs by as much as 21 percent compared to previous models and increase operating efficiency with features such as the On-Demand Throttle arrangement that automatically manages engine speed, combining the efficiency of a manual throttle with ergonomic throttle lock operation.

The wheel loader is powered by an 801-horsepower Cat C32 ACERT engine that can be configured to meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage IV or U.S. EPA Tier 2/EU Stage IIa emissions regulations. The loader’s 14-16 cubic-yard bucket capacities offer a standard lift payload of 24 tons and high-lift payload of 21 tons.

Matched to load a Cat 775 in three passes and a Cat 777 in four passes, the 992K now offers Cat Production Measurement (CPM), the advanced payload weight measuring system that promotes cost-effective hauling by helping loader operators minimize truck under-loading and overloading.

The loader is built fire suppression ready and features fall protection tie-offs that provide fall arrest for service technicians. The 992K design includes turn signals and hazard lights, a bi-directional emergency gate, wheel chocks, and mid-rails. New performance-enhancing features include pump efficiency monitoring, improved fluid filtration, and coolant-loss monitoring. Cat Advansys G.E.T adapters maximize loader uptime with fast, hammerless installation and removal of ground engaging tools.

The cab features joystick controls and an updated information display with a color graphical touch screen. Additional features include centralized service centers and ground level access points to speed up service and reduce exposure to falls. The Vital Information Management System (VIMS) monitors machine health and provides operating information on critical loader functions for operators, service personnel, and fleet managers.