Tag Archives: Conveyors

Martin Engineering goes autonomous with N2 Twist Tensioner for conveyor belts

Martin Engineering has introduced an autonomous tensioning system that, it says, continuously monitors and delivers proper cleaner tension on conveyor belts.

By using Martin Engineering’s new smart technology platform to maintain proper blade-to-belt pressure, the N2® Twist™ Tensioner provides the best possible cleaning performance throughout the life of the blade, according to the company. The system also alerts operators on the Martin Smart Device Manager App when the blade needs changing or if there is an abnormal condition.

“The result is efficient cleaning, increased safety, reduced labour and a lower cost of operation,” the company said.

Andrew Timmerman, Product Development Engineer at Martin Engineering, said the company designed the unit for heavy-duty applications and tested it outdoors in punishing environments and applications.

“The N2 Twist Tensioner has proven itself to be a rugged and highly effective way to maximise both cleaning efficiency and blade life,” he added.

Located on the head pulley, primary belt cleaners commonly have a twist, ratchet or spring tensioner to ensure the cleaner blade stays in consistent contact with the conveyor belt for proper cleaning and material discharge, Martin Engineering says. Prior to the new design, belt tensioners had to be monitored and adjusted manually, in some applications on a daily basis, so they would maintain optimum pressure and carryback removal. Estimating when blades needed changing was often a guessing game that, if left too long, could lead to belt damage, according to the company.

The company continued: “Inadequate tensioning causes carryback to cling to the belt and spill along its path, piling up under the conveyor and emitting excessive dust. This requires extra labour for clean-up and can affect air quality. Over-tensioning leads to friction damage to the carrying side of the belt, premature blade wear and potential splice damage. Both scenarios create unsafe work conditions and raise the cost of operation significantly.”

The N2 Twist Tensioner automatically maintains precise cleaning pressure throughout the entire life of the blade, without maintenance, Martin Engineering says. The tensioner applies the proper amount of torque to deliver optimum cleaning pressure at the blade tip, supporting the Constant Angle Radial Pressure cleaner design that, it says, withstands the force of heavy bulk cargo but retains a consistently tight seal across the belt profile.

Martin Engineering’s smart technology platform monitors blade wear and informs operators when the blade needs changing from control systems that are housed in a durable weather-resistant NEMA 4 control box. Experts recommend changing blades before there is a chance of detachment or a “pull through” (inversion under the head pulley). In the event of a premature pull through, operators are alerted, and the tensioner’s internal self-relieving coupling rolls over. A blade detachment also triggers an alert allowing operators to quickly shut down the system and avoid expensive belt damage.

The electrical system runs both the tensioning system and the sensors, with the unit powered by a rechargeable 12 v battery life. It can also be specified to run on 110-220 VAC.

Martin Engineering concluded: “The N2 Twist Tensioner and Smart Device Manager App ease the burden on managers and workers so they can focus their attention on other critical details of the operation. Precise tensioning and improved belt cleaning reduce the volume of dust and spillage from carryback, improving workplace safety and decreasing the labour needed to maintain and clean around the discharge zone.”

MLT’s North America conveyor solutions business to be integrated into Flexco

Flexco and MLT Minet Lacing Technology have signed an agreement in which Flexco will be the exclusive source for MLT products in the US, Canada and Mexico.

As part of the agreement, MLT will continue to manufacture the products for North America as Flexco integrates MLT’s North America business into its organisation. MLT will continue to manufacture and distribute its products through its six subsidiaries and its distribution partners throughout the rest of the world.

Flexco is headquartered in Illinois US, and operates subsidiary locations in nine other countries, partnering with its distributor network to provide superior knowledge and products that make belt conveyor operations as productive as possible for its global customers.

MLT is headquartered in Saint-Chamond, France. With three factories located in France, six subsidiaries, and two R&D centres, MLT is distributed in more than 120 countries around the world. The company produces high-quality solutions that are quick and easy to install and reduce the downtime of conveyor belts with definitive splice and repair solutions, Flexco says.

Flexco President and Chief Operating Officer, Thomas S Wujek, said: “Flexco has long respected Minet Lacing Technology’s innovative and productivity-enhancing products and we are looking forward to growing our business with our North American customers through this agreement.”

Shawn Godfrey, Director of MLT USA, said: “We pride ourselves on providing our North American customers with the peace of mind of knowing that we are available to help them choose the right solution for their application, and that service and support will continue to grow with Flexco.”

MLT CEO Group – Operations and Innovations, Frédéric Guillemet, and MLT CEO Group – Business and Development, Patrick Vericel, said they were very happy with the strategic partnership with Flexco in North America.

“Our company is widely known for our innovation and technical developments, and we look forward to working with Flexco to increase the productivity and efficiency of the conveyor belts of customers in North America now and into the future,” they said in a joint statement.

SKF and CPS strengthen conveyor roller collaboration

Conveyor Products and Solutions’ (CPS) conveyor roller and idler sets have achieved “SKF Equipped” status, providing clients with assurance of industry-leading premium quality conveyor products and technology, CPS says.

The trademark licence agreement with SKF builds on the supply partnership between the two companies, which has been in place since 2013.

“CPS clients can be assured that CPS conveyor roller and idler sets are of the highest quality and have passed SKF’s strict quality standards on the overall performance and reliability of each rotating equipment component,” CPS said.

Under the terms of this agreement, SKF will be supplying the bearings and bearing components, to be included as an integrated part in CPS Conveyor Rollers. The SKF Equipped status then provides CPS the right to label its conveyor roller and idler sets as “SKF Equipped” and use it in promotional materials, the company said.

“CPS has always had a long-standing relationship with SKF, and this agreement cements our partnership and common goal of leading the industry in conveyor roller technology and quality,” Michael Einhorn, CPS CEO said.

WCM’s Woodhouse Colliery met coal project heads for site work

West Cumbria Mining says the UK Government has agreed with Cumbria County Council’s decision to approve the planning application for its Woodhouse Colliery project in the northeast of England and has lifted its “holding direction”.

The decision means the company can make plans to commence site works later this year at the metallurgical coal project.

Cumbria County Council (CCC) Development Control and Regulation Committee, in October, resolved again to grant planning approval to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to develop the project. This was the second such time the council had approved the project, following a formal approval back in March 2019.

Even with this approval in tow, the UK government could have stepped in to further scrutinise CCC’s sign off – a move they decided not to employ.

CEO Mark Kirkbride said on hearing the news: “I am delighted that the holding direction has been lifted following what has been an extremely rigorous planning process. My team and I are now looking forward to concluding planning signoff and then being able to commence preparatory steps to begin site work later this year.”

When the CCC approval was granted, WCM said it anticipated starting site work early in 2021 (before spring), with initial coal production commencing around 18 months from the start of construction.

Once the Woodhouse Colliery moves into the operational phase, the company plans to extract and process around 2.7 Mt/y of metallurgical coal from the operation, focused on supplying UK and international steelmaking plants.

Run-out and pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method at Woodhouse as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields, the company says.

The technique includes the use of bolter miners to develop the gate roads for the panel, with a bolter miner then driving a run-out roadway. A continuous miner subsequently cuts chevron cut pockets into the pillars, while the roof is supported. Shuttle cars continuously move coal from the respective continuous miners to the feeder breaker and, once coal has passed through the feeder breaker, it falls onto the underground conveyor belt to be taken to surface.

Once processed, the coal at Woodhouse will be transported to the railway loading facility (RLF) in the Pow Beck Valley, near Mirehouse, via an underground conveyor buried in a concrete box culvert, which will mitigate any visual, noise or dust issues between the mine site and RLF, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, WCM says.

North sets Ferrexpo on a course for ‘carbon neutrality’

Ferrexpo is used to setting trends. It was the first company to launch a new open-pit iron ore mine in the CIS since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 and has recently become the first miner in Ukraine to adopt autonomous open-pit drilling and haulage technology.

It plans to keep up this innovative streak if a conversation with Acting CEO Jim North is anything to go by.

North, former Chief Operating Officer of London Mining and Ferrexpo, has seen the technology shift in mining first-hand. A holder of a variety of senior operational management roles in multiple commodities with Rio Tinto and BHP, he witnessed the take-off of autonomous haulage systems (AHS) in the Pilbara, as well as the productivity and operating cost benefits that came with removing operators from blasthole drills.

He says the rationale for adopting autonomous technology at Ferrexpo’s Yeristovo mine is slightly different to the traditional Pilbara investment case.

“This move was not based on reduction in salaries; it was all based on utilisation of capital,” North told IM. While miners receive comparatively good salaries in Ukraine, they cannot compete with the wages of those Pilbara haul truck drivers.

Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North

North provided a bit of background here: “The focus for the last six years since I came into the company was about driving mining efficiencies and getting benchmark performance out of our mining fleet. This is not rocket science; it is all about carrying out good planning and executing to that plan.”

The company used the same philosophy in its process plant – a philosophy that is likely to see it produce close to 12 Mt of high grade (65% Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate next year.

Using his industry knowledge, North pitted Ferrexpo’s fleet performance against others on the global stage.

“Mining is a highly capital-intensive business and that equipment you buy has got be moving – either loaded or empty – throughout the day,” North said. “24 hours-a-day operation is impossible as you must put fuel in vehicles and you need to change operators, so, in the beginning, we focused on increasing the utilised hours. After a couple of years, I noticed we were getting very close to the benchmark performance globally set by the majors.

“If you are looking at pushing your utilisation further, it inevitably leads you to automation.”

Ferrexpo was up for pushing it further and, four years ago, started the process of going autonomous, with its Yeristovo iron ore mine, opened in 2011, the first candidate for an operational shakeup.

“Yeristovo is a far simpler configuration from a mining point of view,” North explained. “It is basically just a large box cut. Poltava, on the other hand (its other iron ore producing mine currently), has been around for 50 years; it is a very deep and complex operation.

“We thought the place to dip our toe into the water and get good at autonomy was Yeristovo.”

This started off in 2017 with deployment of teleremote operation on its Epiroc Pit Viper 275 blasthole drill rigs. The company has gradually increased the level of autonomy, progressing to remotely operating these rigs from a central control room. In 2021-2022, these rigs will move to fully-autonomous mode, North says.

Ferrexpo has also been leveraging remotely-operated technology for mine site surveying, employing drones to speed up and improve the accuracy of the process. The miner has invested in three of these drones to carry out not only site surveys, but stockpile mapping and – perhaps next year – engineering inspections.

“The productivity benefits from these drones are huge,” North said. “In just two days of drone operation, you can carry out the same amount of work it would take three or four surveyors to do in one or two weeks!”

OEM-agnostic solution

It is the haul truck segment of the mine automation project at Yeristovo that has caught the most industry attention, with Ferrexpo one of the first to choose an OEM-agnostic solution from a company outside of the big four open-pit mining haul truck manufacturers.

The company settled on a solution from ASI Mining, owned 34% by Epiroc, after the completion of a trial of the Mobius® Haulage A.I. system on a Cat 793D last year.

The first phase of the commercial project is already kicking off, with the first of six Cat 793s converted to autonomous mode now up and running at Yeristovo. On completion of this first phase of six trucks, consideration will be given to timing of further deployment for the remainder of the Yeristovo truck fleet.

This trial and rollout may appear fairly routine, but behind the scenes was an 18-month process to settle on ASI’s solution.

“For us, as a business, we have about 86 trucks deployed on site,” North said. “We simply couldn’t take the same route BHP or Rio took three or four years ago in acquiring an entirely new autonomous fleet. At that point, Cat and Komatsu were the only major OEMs offering these solutions and they were offering limited numbers of trucks models with no fleet integration possibilities.

“If you had a mixed fleet – which we do – then you were looking at a multi-hundred-million-dollar decision to change out your mining fleet. That is prohibitive for a business like ours.”

Ferrexpo personnel visited ASI Mining’s facility in Utah, USA, several times, hearing all about the parent company’s work with NASA on robotics. “We knew they had the technical capability to work in tough environments,” North remarked.

“We also saw work they had been doing with Ford and Toyota for a number of years on their unmanned vehicles, and we witnessed the object detect and collision avoidance solutions in action on a test track.”

Convinced by these demonstrations and with an eye to the future of its operations, Ferrexpo committed to an OEM-agnostic autonomous future.

“If we want to get to a fully autonomous fleet at some stage in the future, we will need to pick a provider that could turn any unit into an autonomous vehicle,” North said. It found that in ASI Mining’s Mobius platform.

Such due diligence is representative not only of the team’s thorough approach to this project, it also reflects the realities of deploying such a solution in Ukraine.

“It is all about building capability,” North said. “This is new technology in Ukraine – it’s not like you can go down the road and find somebody that has worked on this type of technology before. As a result, it’s all about training and building up the capacity in our workforce.”

After this expertise has been established, the automation rollout will inevitably accelerate.

“Once we have Yeristovo fully autonomous, we intend to move the autonomy program to Belanovo, which we started excavating a couple of years ago,” North said. “The last pit we would automate would be Poltava, purely due to complexity.”

Belanovo, which has a JORC Mineral Resource of 1,700 Mt, is currently mining overburden with 30-40 t ADTs shifting this material. While ASI Mining said it would be able to automate such machines, North decided the automation program will only begin when large fleet is deployed.

“When we deploy large fleet at Belanovo and start to move significant volumes, we intend for it to become a fully-autonomous operation,” he said.

Poltava, which is a single pit covering a 7 km long by 2 km wide area (pictured below), has a five-decade-long history and a more diverse mining fleet than Yeristovo. In this respect, it was always going to be harder to automate from a loading and haulage point of view.

“If you think about the fleet numbers deployed when Belanovo is running, we will probably have 50% of our fleet running autonomously,” North said. “The level of capability to run that level of technology would be high, so it makes sense to take on the more complex operation at Poltava at that point in time.”

Consolidation and decarbonisation

This autonomy transition has also given North and his team the chance to re-evaluate its fleet needs for now and in the future.

This is not as simple as it may sound to those thinking of a typical Pilbara AHS fleet deployment, with the Yeristovo and Poltava mines containing different ore types that require blending at the processing plant in order to sustain a cost-effective operation able to produce circa-12 Mt/y of high-grade (65%-plus Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate.

“That limits our ability in terms of fleet size for ore mining because we want to match the capacity of the fleet to the different ore streams we feed into the plant,” North said.

This has seen the company standardise on circa-220 t trucks for ore movement and 300-320 t trucks for waste haulage.

On the latter, North explained: “That is about shovel utilisation, not necessarily about trucks. If you go much larger than that 320-t truck, you are talking about the need to use large rope shovels and we don’t have enough consistent stripping requirements for that. We think the 800 t-class electric hydraulic excavator is a suitable match for the circa-320 t truck.”

This standardisation process at Poltava has seen BELAZ 40 t trucks previously working in the pit re-assigned for auxiliary work, with the smallest in-pit Cat 777 trucks acting as fuel, water and lubrication service vehicles at Poltava.

“The Cat 785s are the smallest operating primary fleet we have at Poltava,” North said. “We also have the Hitachi EH3500s and Cat 789s and Cat 793s, tending to keep the bigger fleet towards Yeristovo and the smaller fleet at Poltava.”

In carrying out this evaluation, the company has also plotted its next electrification steps.

“Given we have got to the point where we know we want 220 t for ore and 300-320 t nominally for waste at Yeristovo, we have a very clear understanding of where we are going in our efforts to support our climate action,” North said.

Electrification of the company’s entire operation – both the power generation and pelletising segment, and the mobile fleet – forms a significant part of its carbon reduction plans.

A 5 MW solar farm is being built to trial the efficacy of photovoltaic generation in the region, while, in the pelletiser, the company is blending sunflower husks with natural gas to power the process. Fine tuning over the past few years has seen the company settle on a 30:70 sunflower husk:natural gas energy ratio, allowing the company to make the most of a waste product in plentiful supply in Ukraine.

On top of this, the company is recuperating heat from the pelletisation process where possible and reusing it for other processes.

With a significant amount of ‘blue’ (nuclear) or ‘green’ (renewable) power available through the grid and plans to incorporate renewables on site, Ferrexpo looks to have the input part of the decarbonisation equation covered.

In the pellet lines, North says green hydrogen is believed to be the partial or full displacement solution for gas firing, with the company keenly watching developments such as the HYBRIT project in Sweden.

On the diesel side of things, Ferrexpo is also charting its decarbonisation course. This will start with a move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years.

Power infrastructure is already available in the pits energising most of its electric-hydraulic shovels and backhoes, and the intention is for these new electric drive trucks to go on trolley line infrastructure to eradicate some of the operation’s diesel use.

“Initially we would still need to rely on diesel engines at the end of ramps and the bottom of pits, but our intention is to utilise some alternative powerpack on these trucks as the technology becomes available,” North said.

He expects that alternative powerpack to be battery-based, but he and the company are keeping their options open during conversations with OEMs about the fleet replacement plans.

“We know we are going to have to buy a fleet in the next couple of years, but the problem is when you make that sort of purchase, you are committing to using those machines for the next 20 years,” North said. “During all our conversations with OEMs we are recognising that we will need to buy a fleet before they have probably finalised their ‘decarbonised’ solutions, so all the contracts are based on the OEM providing that fully carbon-free solution when it becomes available.”

With around 15% of the company’s carbon footprint tied to diesel use, this could have a big impact on Ferrexpo’s ‘green’ credentials, yet the transition to trolley assist makes sense even without this sustainability benefit.

“The advantages in terms of mining productivity are huge,” North said. “You go from 15 km/h on ramp to just under 30 km/h on ramp.”

This is not all North offered up on the company’s carbon reduction plans.

At both of Ferrexpo’s operations, the company moves a lot of ore internally with shuttle trains, some of which are powered by diesel engines. A more environmentally friendly alternative is being sought for these locomotives.

“We are working with rail consultants that are delivering solutions for others to ‘fast follow’ that sector,” North said referencing the project already underway with Vale at its operations in Brazil. “We are investigating at the moment how we could design and deploy the solution at our operations for a lithium-ion battery loco.”

Not all the company’s decarbonisation and energy-efficiency initiatives started as recently as the last few years.

When examining a plan to reach 12 Mt/y of iron ore pellet production, North and his team looked at the whole ‘mine to mill’ approach.

“The cheapest place to optimise your comminution of rock is within the mine itself,” North said. “If you can optimise your blasting and get better fragmentation in the pit, you are saving energy, wear on materials, etc and you are doing some of the job of the concentrator and comminution process in the mine.”

A transition to a full emulsion blasting product came out of this study, and a move from NONEL detonators to electronic detonators could follow in the forthcoming years.

“That also led us into thinking about the future crusher – where we want to put it, what materials to feed into the expanded plant in the future, and what blending ratio we want to have from the pits,” North said. “The problem with pit development in a business that is moving 150-200 Mt of material a year is the crusher location needs to change as the mining horizons change.”

It ended up becoming a tradeoff between placing a new crusher in the pit on an assigned bench or putting it on top of the bench and hauling ore to that location.

The favoured location looks like being within the pit, according to North.

“It will be a substantial distance away from where our existing facility at Poltava is and we will convey the material into the plant,” he said. “We did the tradeoff study between hauling with trains/trucks, or conveying and, particularly for Belanovo, we need to take that ore to the crusher from the train network we already have in place.”

These internal ‘green’ initiatives are representative of the products Ferrexpo is supplying the steel industry.

Having shifted away from lower grade pellets to a higher-grade product in the past five years and started to introduce direct reduced iron pellet products to the market with trial shipments, Ferrexpo is looking to be a major player in the ‘green steel’ value chain.

North says as much.

“We are getting very close to understanding our path forward and our journey to carbon neutrality.”

Superior targets longer and wider material handling applications with new overland conveyors

Superior Industries is launching a new model of its Zipline® Overland Conveyors, expanding its range of modular products for longer and wider material handling applications.

Zipline conveyors target bulk producers looking for overland conveyors that require little or no pre-engineering for express deliveries and are designed for quick assembly in the field. With the addition of the new EXT Series, Zipline Conveyors are available in lengths up to 762 m and belt widths up to 1,220 mm.

Between the head and tail are a series of 12.2 m intermediate sections designed with 200 mm channel and 610 mm tall support stands. Standard Zipline Conveyor models are equipped with mechanical take-ups for shorter distances, but the new EXT Series includes a gravity take-up tower to accommodate longer-distance overland conveying, the company said.

All of the conveyor components – like the pulleys, idlers and scrapers – are also manufactured in-house.

“This unique advantage means higher quality, faster deliveries and all-inclusive support from Superior Industries,” the company said.

Martin Engineering goes virtual with conveyor training

With in-person training curtailed for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 restrictions, Martin Engineering says it has developed an extensive array of tools to continue its tradition of educating those who maintain, manage and design conveyors for industrial operations.

The result is a wide range of globally-available options to help improve safety and efficiency, reduce maintenance expenditures and extend equipment life, ultimately contributing to greater profitability, it says.

“The pandemic has impacted our ability to teach traditional classes at customer sites,” PE Todd Swinderman, CEO Emeritus of Martin Engineering and an industry veteran with more than 40 years of hands-on experience, said. “But it doesn’t reduce the need for conveyor operators and facility managers to obtain the benefits and continuing education credits those sessions provide.”

In response to the restrictions that the virus has placed on face-to-face learning, Martin has created a series of interactive online modules based on the same non-commercial curriculum it has produced over the years. Designed to keep attendees engaged and organised into 90-120 minute segments, the virtual classes cover topics such as best practices for safety, fugitive material control and belt tracking. Upon completion, attendees are eligible to receive either Professional Development Unit (PDU) or Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits.

“The Foundations™ online seminars deliver non-commercial, topic-specific problem-solving information that can be put to immediate use,” Swinderman said. “There’s no sales pitch, and even the most remote locations can take advantage,” he added.

Customer Development Manager, Jerad Heitzler, an instructor of Martin’s safety workshops since 2010, said: “Conveyors are one of the best productivity-enhancing tools available, but conveyor injuries cost employers millions of dollars annually. Because of the size of their material cargoes, the speed of their operation, and the amount of energy they consume and contain, conveyors have been shown to be a leading cause of industrial accidents, including serious injuries and fatalities. But injuries are preventable with the right training, preparation and safety precautions.”

According to Heitzler, the company’s preferred platform is Zoom, but its expert trainers also have experience with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Webex.

“Our platform has been built to increase attendee engagement as much as possible,” Heitzler added. “Many trainers don’t use the available platform features effectively, because they were thrust into online training as a result of the pandemic. But we’ve worked hard at using engagement features to increase learner participation, with options such as a raise hand button, chat, Q and A, screen sharing, white boards, private breakout rooms and polling.”

Heitzler said the Martin team has taught around 2,000 attendees using video conferencing since the onset of the virus.

“We’ve presented these modules to learners in coal handling plants, cement manufacturing, aggregate production and pulp and paper mills,” he said. “We’ve also provided training for industry consultants, service providers and engineering firms who design conveyors and plants.”

Swinderman estimates the firm has trained more than 50,000 miners, operators, maintenance staff and management personnel around the world.

There are two standard tracks: one for maintenance and operations personnel that stresses safe work practices and solutions to common conveyor problems, and one designed for technical and management personnel that emphasises the design and operation of conveyors for safety and productivity. In addition, Martin trainers and engineers can custom design programs not only for customers using conveyors but for those needing training on the application of industrial vibration, air cannons and silo cleaning.

“Both methods of training are highly interactive, effective and non-commercial, focusing on delivering timely information that can be put to immediate use,” Swinderman concluded.

ASGCO cleans up conveyor belts with U-Scrape

ASGCO has announced the latest addition to its line of Secondary Belt Cleaner products for bulk material handling applications.

The U-Scrape™ Secondary Cleaner’s, unique ‘U’ shape design conforms to the return side of the belt, which allows the blade to maintain the maximum pressure in the centre of the belt where the majority of the carryback material builds up, according to the company.

The blade is offered in two options: solid urethane, or with tungsten carbide tips embedded in urethane. With its curved U-shape blade, the U-Scrape blade tips are in constant contact with the belt to provide the highest cleaning efficiency, especially in tough applications.

The U-Scrape belt cleaner is primarily intended for use in conveyor bulk material handling applications in the following industries: aggregates, recycling, wastewater treatment, pulp & paper, coal, coal-fired power plants, chemical processing among others where carryback and spillage needs to be eliminated.

Metso Outotec goes the distance with overland conveyor range

Metso Outotec says it has introduced a full range of overland conveyors for “economic and energy-efficient bulk material transportation”.

Designed for transporting bulk material in long distance mining applications, the overland conveyor solutions can be used at both open-pit and underground operations and, according to the company, offer the lowest total cost of ownership.

Lars Duemmel, Vice President, Bulk Material Handling Systems at Metso Outotec, said: “In mining and minerals processing applications, conveying is one of the most efficient and safest ways to transport bulk material. It is often referred as the backbone of the entire process.

“The robust design of our overland conveyors allows for capacities of up to 20,000 t/h, including over 5 km on a single flight for a seamless process. What is also important is that you can achieve power savings of up to 30% with the patented Energy Saving Idlers® (ESI).”

ESI, according to Metso Outotec, significantly reduces the overall rolling resistance on conveyor belts, leading to savings in the electrical power costs to operate the conveyor.

Duemmel added: “Thanks to our extensive process engineering capability and proven installations around the world, we are able to support our customers with complete end-to-end conveyor solutions.

“This includes concept studies and definitions for all types of terrains and route types with horizontal and vertical curves. Our expertise also covers post-installation services and maintenance, including a full range of accessories, belts and components featured in the recently launched Conveyor Solutions Handbook.”

DRA Global’s ‘total solutions offering’ put to the test at Exxaro’s Grootegeluk mine

DRA Global says it has continued to sustain its long-term client relationship with Exxaro Resources through the progressive engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract at the Grootegeluk coal asset in South Africa.

Exxaro’s Grootegeluk is an open-pit coal mine, 20 km from Lephalale in Limpopo province. The mine produced 26 Mt/y final coal products, using a conventional truck and shovel operation, and has an estimated mineable coal reserve of 3,261 Mt, and a total measured coal resource of 4,719 Mt.

“A project of this magnitude speaks to the extensive experience in project development and delivery extended to the client by DRA,” DRA says.

DRA’s specialist engineering expertise and total solutions package at Exxaro’s Grootegeluk includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bankable feasibility study;
  • Installation of a new PC2 Discard Conveyor alongside the current PC1 Discard Conveyor;
  • Installation of new bifurcated transfer chutes to discharge onto either PC1 or PC2 Conveyor;
  • Seven transfers in total that requires conversion; and
  • Construction of associated infrastructure; such as stormwater control, road crossing, new spillage collection and a transfer system.

Furthermore, DRA recently completed the 3D scanning of existing conveyors and accompanying infrastructure. The compiling of the 3D model has commenced and will inform the engineering of the various transfer towers and the new PC2 Conveyor onto the next phase, it said.

Exxarro, in 2018, initially awarded DRA a contract to construct a 500 t/h coal handling and preparation plant at the Belfast Implementation project, in Mpumalanga.

“The client’s faith in DRA showcases the proficiency in implementing large-scale coal projects and further solidifies the organisations’ reputation for successful project delivery (even under these new circumstances),” it said.

Alistair Hodgkinson, Senior Vice President at DRA, said: “Grootegeluk is just one of many projects under DRA that provides an excellent opportunity to showcase our engineering capability. This is a complex brownfields project that will require attention to detail to achieve successful construction during a tight shutdown deadline; the client values our reputation for being able to deliver challenging brownfields projects successfully.”

The project commenced in the September quarter and is forecasted for completion by the June quarter of 2021.