When you first read the announcement that Barrick Gold Corp had ordered 35 new 2015 Ford F150 pickups for their mining sites around the United States, it seemed like an odd thing for the Motor Company to brag about. After all, while 35 trucks is a nice sized purchase, it surely isn’t the biggest fleet of trucks in the US and it isn’t like Barrick is a household name. It would be one thing for an automaker to make an announcement if a well-known company like Disney or Best Buy made a big fleet purchase, but the Barrick announcement seemed odd.
The key bit of information isn’t really about the number of 2015 F150 pickups ordered by this relatively unknown gold mining company – it is the fact that Barrick was one of the three Ford fleet customers in the US who secretly tested the aluminum cargo box on previous F150 pickups. Those two test trucks performed well enough that Barrick decided to make a large fleet order – comprised entirely of new 2015 F150 pickups.
The Initial Test
Back in 2012, Barrick Gold Corp purchased a group of Ford F150 pickups and two of those trucks were fitted with experimental cargo boxes (beds) made from a new aluminum alloy instead of steel. These two trucks were sent into Barrick’s fleet, performing all of the grueling tasks as the rest of the trucks at the company’s Nevada gold mines through 2013 and 2014. After this two year testing period, Ford examined these experimental truck beds and gathered feedback from the Barrick workers who dealt with these trucks.
In short, those secret test trucks passed every test with flying colors, so when the 2015 Ford F150 was introduced with aluminum panels, the trucks used by Barrick with the aluminum cargo boxes were used as proof that the lightweight metal could stand up to the abuse of a hard working truck. According to what Ford says, Barrick and the other two companies which tested the prototype bed construction were all very happy with their trucks, but were they impressed enough to purchase new aluminum F150 pickups?
The answer for Barrick is “yes”.
“We are proud Barrick is purchasing all-new F-150s after testing early prototypes in some of the harshest conditions,” said Fritz Ahadi, Ford Commercial and Government Fleet Sales general manager. “This is terrific proof that even our toughest, most demanding customers recognize the benefits of high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy to help them get the job done.”
The Barrick Mining Trucks
Barrick Gold Corp has a fleet of more than 100 pickups and as they eclipse the 100,000 mile mark, the mining company will look to buy new trucks to replace them. Barrick has begun the process of replacing their aging trucks and the first batch of new worksite vehicles consists of 35 2015 Ford F150 pickups. All of these 35 trucks ordered by the gold mining company are SuperCab models with Four Wheel Drive and a mix of the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and the 5.0L V8.
“The F-150s see tough duty from operations supervisors, exploration field technicians, project managers, maintenance technicians and closure personnel,” said Rebecca Caudill, Barrick Gold USA fleet manager. “Many of the trucks go into extremely rugged conditions during the planning and mapping out of new projects, core drilling and daily mining operations. Our trucks will see 30,000 to 35,000 miles per year, accumulating well over 100,000 miles in the 40-to-45-month lease rotation.”
In other words, Barrick Gold Corp bought a handful of 2012 Ford F150 pickups and two of them had a similar aluminum construction to that found on the 2015 F150. They were so impressed by how these beds stood up to two years of abuse that the company went ahead and ordered 35 new trucks – all of which have the aluminum body panels. Provided that all of those trucks were the base model XL package with the 6.5 foot bed, the MSRP on 35 trucks would be around $875,000. Of course, fleet pricing brings that number down a bit, but even if Ford slashed $3,500 per truck, Barrick still laid out three quarters of a million dollars on new F150 pickups.
Barrick was so impressed that they spent upwards of $750,000 on new F150 pickups, and that should prove as a testament to anyone who questions the capabilities of the new aluminum body.