Caterpillar Inc. has outlined a four-year, $700-million investment program to expand production of mining shovels and heavy trucks for that market, at its plants in Aurora, Ill., and Chennai, India. CEO-elect Doug Oberhelman called the investment “a great example of the job-creation benefits of global trade, as well over 60 percent of the large mining products made at our Illinois facilities are exported outside of the United States," Oberhelman added.” At Aurora, Caterpillar intends to manufacture a full range of mining shovels — the purpose-built, track-mounted excavators used for surface mining. The products will range from 125 tons to 800 tons, Caterpillar said, so customers will have a “direct match” for loading Caterpillar's mining trucks. Aurora also produces Caterpillar's largest wheel loaders, an alternative method for loading mining trucks. "As we discuss solutions with our global mining customers, it's clear they want a complete line of Caterpillar shovels to best match the full range of Caterpillar trucks operating at their mines," said Chris Curfman, president of Caterpillar Global Mining. In addition to the Illinois operation the company is studying other possible production sites in other parts of the world. Pilot production of its new 125-ton shovel will begin early next year, and the first commercial shovels produced in Aurora should be available later in 2011. Larger shovel models will be available beginning in 2013. Caterpillar previously announced plans to expand heavy truck manufacturing by 30% in Decatur, Ill., as early as 2011. Now, it plans to increase capacity for 60- and 100-ton trucks at its plant near Chennai, India, by early 2012. This effort will more than double truck production capabilities in India, the company said. "The increased production in India and Decatur will better position the company to serve our mining customers in every region of the world, with a particular focus on the growing demand and customer base in the emerging markets of Asia and in Russia," Curfman added. Caterpillar also reported that initial interest has been strong for its new, all-electric, 345-ton Cat 795F AC trucks, and that it has increased its planned build rate for 2011 by more than 40 percent to meet demand in all major mining worldwide. In 2012 it is planning to produce a 240-ton version of the all-electric truck, and both models will complement Caterpillar's range of mechanical drive trucks.