New aluminum F-150s secretly tested at Barrick mines
To test the ruggedness of the new F-150s that now use an aluminum-alloy cargo box, two trucks were tested over a long period at Barrick Gold's Bald Mountain and Cortez mines in Nevada prior to the vehicles general release.
Outwardly, the secret truck didn't appear different to mine worker Mike Sena but back in November 2011 he remembers finding it odd that some of his magnetized tools weren't attracted to the vehicle.
"The GPS wouldn’t stick to the side," Sena told the Detroit News. "But we didn’t put a whole lot of effort into trying to figure it out."
The two test trucks became an order of 35 new vehicles, says Ford in a statement. Barrick has ordered all-new F-150 SuperCab 4×4 models with the 3.5-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8. Barrick has been using F-150s and a variety of other Ford models for more than two decades, and plans to purchase additional trucks, totaling in the hundreds, in the future.
"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 in a statement.
"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."
The new F-150s uses aluminum on the body and bed to reduce weight by 700 lbs. The frame, however, is still made of steel.
"Ford is taking a gamble on aluminum, but if it succeeds, it could alter the way trucks are designed and built," writes Car and Driver.