In this article, Briony Hale, from BBC News, reports from the Orapa diamond mine, the largest in Botswana, that gigantic trucks have changed the work of diamond miners -- and improved the profits of mining companies.
These monsters cost £1.4m each ($2,4M) and can carry 190 tons of ore at a speed of 70km an hour on flat terrain.
To give you an idea of the size of these trucks, here is a photo of truck driver Jabulile Vandepitte climbing aboard on a ladder (Credit: BBC News).
But if these trucks are enormous, they receive plenty of help from technology, for reversing for example as there are many blind spots.
The easy part is that a computer in the cab tells the driver what to do via picture messages sent to a mobile data terminal.
Other systems help for location and loading the ore.
The position of the monster trucks themselves can be tracked to under a metre. But the real precision work comes when loading the ore.
The shovels and bulldozers are tracked to within a centimetre, using seven different satellites, so that they can find the most level surface, says Mr Keyser of De Beers [who owns the mine].
Ad to give you an idea of the size of the mine, here is a view from space of the Orapa diamond mine, with a scale at the bottom (Credit: ASTER Image Web Lirary (Link).
Sources: Briony Hale, BBC News Online in Botswana, December 10, 2003; ASTER Image Web Library