Chute Technology says its new coal and ore handling technologies, designed to overcome production-limiting factors at mines and bulk handling terminals throughout Australia, are proving their worth in service at the Ulan operations in New South Wales.
The technology packages are designed to eliminate potential bottlenecks, occupational health and safety issues and weak links in the production chain that can increase downtime and reduce output, Chute Technology says.
Typical issues include bin surging, bulk cleaning, spillages, blockages and reduced throughput rates, resulting in inefficient production.
According to Dennis Pomfret, Managing Director, Chute Technology, the company designed a customised chute to eliminate potential downtime for a specific section of the bypass system at the Ulan Surface Operations, which IM understands is owned by Glencore.
The new chute has dramatically reduced downtime since commissioning, according to the company, whereas the legacy arrangements were a source of multiple hours of lost production.
“The new chute allows Ulan Surface Operations to operate with a full feed rate of 2,000 t/h without any stoppages or blockages, so they can maximise their productivity and our profitability,” Pomfret said.
Chute Technology says it combines its decades of Australian and international practical engineering experience with advanced expertise in new flow enhancement and problem-solving technologies to produce modern answers to minerals and materials handling problems. The company provides audits and solutions extending from single issues at individual plants through to whole-of-process improvements extending from mines to port or point of resource use.
Pomfret said Ulan Surface Operations was looking to the future by investing in a solution designed to maximise productivity and eliminate unwanted downtime.
“We’re delighted that we could make Ulan Surface Operations’ bypass vision come to life, and it’s rewarding to see it working out in service,” he said. “Ulan Surface Operations is always looking to employ modern solutions that avoid problems in the first place, rather than cleaning up a mess after it occurs.”
Chute Technology performed an audit of current operations to gain a holistic view of current operations, before recommending the solution. The engineering audit determined that functionality of one known trouble spot, the bypass hopper and vibratory feeder, could be taken out of service and replaced with a simpler transfer chute with an in-built surge capacity.
The chute was designed in such a way that it could all be lifted and installed in one go, minimising installation downtime, the company said.
Chute Technology also designed and installed an adjustable surge control baffle device to control the height of material on the conveyor belt. The device acts like a trimmer on the end of the chute, where it trims the height of material during times of surge loading, to avoid belt overloading, side spillage and keep material heights consistent.
“We anticipate the surge control device will reduce spillage considerably, especially when taking into account the typical delays in conveyor stopping and starting sequences,” Pomfret said.
“A major consideration for the project was to design the new chute around the existing structures as much as possible, so that there was as little rework or modifications needed before installation.
“We also took into consideration that the drop height is almost 15 m. Ulan Surface Operations wished to retain their surge bin, floor structure, vibrating feeder and conveyor structures, so we designed around these as much as was possible. Additionally, the design was modular, so the installation took as little time as possible.”
Chute Technology says it selected an asymmetric chute to avoid belt mis-tracking issues, a “virtual skirtboard” to optimise the internal flow geometry and designed a single point of contact flow path so the material flow is constantly in contact with the chute from the head pulley to the receiving belt.
Pomfret concluded: “This project has been an excellent success, and we look forward to a long-term relationship with Ulan Surface Operations, as they look to maximise productivity and profitability.”