Tag Archives: FEA

Worley out to help miners on their open pit to underground mining transition

As open-pit mines reach their economic end of life, mine owners are considering the viability of transitioning their open-pit operations to underground.

Drawing on its deep level mining expertise in South Africa, Worley helps mine owners around the world to explore the feasibility of underground life of mine extensions and identify the most efficient and safe underground mining methods.

Among the driving factors in the transition to underground mining are declining ore grades, deeper ore deposits, and an increase in demand for minerals required for the global energy transition, such as copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, Worley says.

“Worley’s centre of excellence for copper in Chile has been supporting open-pit copper mine customers for nearly three decades,” the company said. “The company is gearing up its underground capability as these mines shift their operations to below surface to access deeper ore reserves.”

Going deep in South Africa

Worley’s South Africa operations is one of the company’s mining centres of excellence with niche experience in deep level mining.

Mining has been the mainstay of South Africa’s economy for well over a century, and a major source of employment as well as foreign investment. Consequently, Worley has grown its South Africa mining team in one of the best mining environments in the world, with a collective experience of over 120 years in deep level mining and process expertise.

Robert Hull, Vice President for Mining, Minerals & Metals in Africa, says Worley’s South African operation is recognised for its deep level shaft experience, and the company also has experience across most commodities including base metals, coal, platinum, gold, diamonds and ferrous metals.

Hull says Worley has a strong global workshare philosophy and culture of collaboration. The specialist skills in South Africa gained from working on some of the biggest underground projects in the world are an integral part of Worley’s mining, minerals and metals global project delivery offering.

Deep level mine skills

Some of South Africa’s specialist deep underground skills include shaft design, ventilation and refrigeration shafts, high pressure pumping, and deep level hoisting.

Worley says it is one of the few companies in the world that has the expertise to design hoisting systems for mass hoisting, such as at the Venetia Underground Project, which will hoist approximately 6 Mt/y of rock.

The De Beers Venetia Mine in South Africa is the biggest source of rough diamonds in the country, according to Worley. The mine is in the process of transitioning from open pit to underground, to extend its life by some 25 years.

As engineering procurement and construction management contractor for South Africa’s largest mining execution project, Worley is using 3D designs for the project infrastructure to provide 3D models for the entire project’s surface and underground infrastructure, it said.

Intelligent mines

Hull says Worley is leading the way in developing digital solutions for the planning, design and execution of mining projects, with the South Africa office having played a key role in the design and development of much of the group’s digital technology in mining and minerals processing.

Hull (pictured) cites the Wafi-Golpu (owned by Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining) feasibility study update, in Papua New Guinea, where the South Africa team drew on SmartPlant design technology, which uses rapid prototyping and Building Information Modelling. The technology allowed the entire project team to visualise project objectives as never before, greatly improving operational efficiency in a dynamic time and cost-saving environment, according to Worley.

The Wafi-Golpu project is ranked as a world-class deposit in terms of its size and the grade of gold and copper within it. If developed, it will be the largest, deepest and most complex underground mine in Papua New Guinea, with a mine life of 28 years, Worley says.

Integrated project delivery teams

Worley’s South Africa team is also supporting its Australia counterparts to project manage the delivery of the deepening and expansion of an underground gold mine. This includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at depth to 2 140m below surface. IM understands the project in question is the Newmont-owned Tanami Expansion 2 project, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Mega machines for mega mines

Hull says every underground project Worley has executed has drawn on the company’s large material handling capabilities.

“In South Africa, we have a dedicated materials handling department that has the latest tools including discrete element modelling and finite element analysis, and advanced simulation tools for conveyer design,” he said.

Coenie Mynhardt, Winder Engineering at Worley, adds that mine payloads have increased dramatically in the last two decades in pursuit of higher productivity rates. Mines such as Impala and Phalaborwa, in South Africa, with an approximate 12-t per skipload, were considered ‘mega mines’ in their day. The mines of the future are more than double that size.

“The mega mines of the future need mega machines to be able to handle such big payloads,” Mynhardt says. “Materials handling technology for such deep, high tonnage operations will test current technology for capacity and reliability to bring the ore from the production levels to surface. We have the skills and expertise to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Global project delivery

“Countries such as Chile have immense potential for transitioning from open pit to underground if the geology supports it,” commented Hull. “With the wealth of experience across locations and over 4,000 staff in our mining, minerals and metals business line, we can safely and successfully deliver our customers’ underground mine assets through collaborative development of the mine and associated infrastructure anywhere in the world.”

Kinder engineers a case for high performance plant, equipment in bulk handling ops

As mining companies continue to search for cost efficiencies at their operations against a backdrop of subdued metal prices and uncertainty related to the onset of COVID-19, bulk materials handling equipment provider, Kinder Australia, is warning them to focus on sourcing engineered and high-performance components that have been optimised for the application at hand.

Today’s global economy means when sourcing bulk handling equipment, operators are spoilt for choice with the vast selection of conveyor component suppliers and access to highly engineered and innovative solutions to advance their end to end handling processes, Kinder Australia says.

“For most operators, price alone is often the motivator for purchase,” it said. “However, buyer beware, lower price products are more often ‘copycat’ and ‘knockoffs’ offering on-par standards and functionality benefits to the original product.

“The reality of inferior, lower price copycats is the untold costly, irreversible damage these products can have to the conveyor structure, conveyor belts itself and the unscheduled maintenance and productivity downtime to replace these inferior products…only to be discovered shortly after the installation hurdle.”

When considering cost cutting on a corporate level, many plant and equipment suppliers are also challenged by the dilemmas of large corporate purchasing department heads who are ignorant of the engineering differences between genuine and counterfeit products, and quite often make their purchasing decisions based solely on price, often at the expense of quality, Kinder Australia says.

Trusted quality

In the case of lower cost polyurethane skirting and anti-wear lining products, on the surface, they look and feel the same as the genuine engineered polyurethane skirting.

“However, conduct a quick internet search and you’ll soon realise the countless suppliers using sub-standard/cheaper manufacturing practices to design, manufacture and market far inferior polyurethane products and conveyor components and pass them off as high-quality engineered equivalents,” the company said.

The use of non-genuine engineered conveyor components can lead to frequent production stoppages, belt wear damage, other unpleasant material spillage and safety hazards, according to the company.

Neil Kinder, Kinder Australia CEO, says: “The mark of quality in our industry is ISO 9001 certification. These international standards provide assurance and commitment to our diverse customer base that Kinder provides highly customer-focused bulk materials handling products and solutions that are safe, reliable and of high-quality standards.”

He added: “Kinder Australia partners with an independent laboratory to facilitate and conduct ASTM D 4060 quality testing and certification of competitive lower cost conveyor components”.

The “Taber Test” carried out by independent testing laboratory Excel Plas, showed Kinder Australia’s K-Superskirt® Engineered Polyurethane abrades less by comparison with the competitor’s polyurethane and is therefore four times more durable than the competitor’s polyurethane tested, according to the company.

This polyurethane has been successfully and effectively installed in a multitude of applications, including the harshest mining environments, delivering significant cost and labour savings to operators globally, Kinder Australia said.

Conveyor planning & engineering design

Conveyor engineering design focuses on providing solutions to customers issues around three key areas: productivity, safety and cost reduction, Kinder Australia says.

Materials handling operators are constantly challenged by increasing production outputs and cost reduction targets. Ensuring the recommended solution is fit for purpose and practical from a cost, installation and maintenance perspective are also key engineering considerations.

Cameron Portelli, Senior Mechanical Engineer at Kinder Australia, says: “The issue of poor belt life is often encountered during on-site evaluation; it’s one of the top conveyor problems seen by our mechanical and field applications engineers.”

Conveyor Belt Support Systems are designed to protect this expensive and important asset, according to the company.

At the critical conveyor transfer points, having the full force of the impact absorbed rather than resisted means the impact load zone belt support system below the belt takes the hit rather than the conveyor belt itself. This effectively improves and extends the wear life of all conveyor components such as the belt, idlers and structure life and makes for a quieter transfer in serious applications.

Kinder’s K-Dynamic Impact Idler/Cradle Systems (pictured) target conveyor transfers as “burden is being accelerated due to fall and changes in direction from one system to the next which prevents steady state flow and requires additional thought into supporting the belt to improve the life of the belt and transfer components”, says Portelli.

“It would be wise to start from the problem at hand and work backwards to isolate the root cause. This may involve chute design improvements before any transfer chute sealing options should be looked at.”

Another regular occurrence encountered on-site are grooves on the top cover created by product getting under hard and soft skirts, particularly at the transfer point.

This problem can often be solved through the installation of a combination of conveyor skirting and sealing & conveyor belt support system, which can also effectively eliminate dust and material spillage and create work environments that are productive, clean and safe, Kinder Australia said.

This is where SOLIDWORKS® Simulation Finite Element Analysis, an upgrade to the basic software licence, can accurately predict and design solutions that mimic real-world applications and scenarios.

“With this powerful information, industry lead mechanical engineers have the necessary tools to analyse results, plan and expertly optimise future designs, geared at maximising productivity improvements and efficiency gains,” the company said.

When planning, designing, and recommending solutions, safety is an integral part in delivering operational productivity and efficiency, with engineers ethically and legally responsible for the solutions they recommend and implement.

“In some cases, if all reasonable risks are not considered, the risk of legal action against the company and the individual could have massive financial ramifications, along with the ongoing damage to the brand and stance in the industry,” Kinder Australia said.

Portelli says all of Kinder Australia’s new and innovative designs are stringently risk assessed for hazards at the critical installation, operational and maintenance stages.

“Through the effective use of SOLIDWORKS, Simulation Finite Element Analysis tools can potentially reduce any ongoing risks by analysing the specific areas where a design can be better improved,” he said.

Portelli elaborated on this: “This software can also assist clients to see the overall bigger picture, as well as take into consideration future installation and maintenance issues.

“Although SOLIDWORKS doesn’t produce all scenarios, it can be a beneficial tool for starting a conversation with clients. This mostly centres around how the solution will function after installation and its serviceability.”

In recent years, materials handling conveyor components supplier Kinder Australia has made significant investments in engineering design through the expansion of its mechanical engineering team to three staff. The engineering team’s capabilities extend to high proficiency in Helix Conveyor Design and AutoCAD, it said.

These tools can help make decisions on the drive power requirements; belt tensions and a suitably specified belt; specifications for suitably sizes idler rolls; take-up dimensions and gravity take up weight requirements; specifications for a suitable gearbox; and the design of pulleys to meet standards AS1403 (shafts) and limit stresses in the shells.

Neil Kinder concluded: “For the past 30 years, the driver for the business has been the resolution and advancement of our customers end-to-end handling processes, harnessing our engineering expertise and keeping abreast of innovative and emerging industry technologies.

“Developing a connection with our diverse customer base who have differing application needs and expectations through on-site visits, our highly technical mechanical engineering and field applications team become better at solving our customers problem and measuring up the solution.”