Tag Archives: hoses

NEPEAN aims to RESolutionise the underground coal mining sector

Pillar extraction is back on the agenda again and NEPEAN Longwall is proving the coal mining doubters wrong with an ambitious and innovative project that, it says, may lead to an industry step-change, prolonging the life of underground operations by supplying a system that combines elements of both longwall and room & pillar mining methods.

Australia-based NEPEAN Longwall has a value proposition that spans all aspects of longwall mining equipment, including armoured face conveyors, beam stage loaders, shearers, drive units, electro-hydraulics, chain and flights, hoses, cables and other specific componentry.

It is known the world over for its tailored engineering capability, and its latest project – a world first – will do that reputation no harm.

“We are different to other major players in this sector as we embrace customised solutions for our customers to a greater extent,” Mark O’Toole, Business Development Manager of NEPEAN Longwall, told IM. “We are not trying to protect an inflexible supply chain, and that allows us to design the best solution for each customer.”

NEPEAN Longwall has recognised the changing market in Australia where new mine approvals are more difficult than ever, access to capital is constrained and customers are looking for cost-effective solutions to make the most of their underground reserves.

It was Centennial Coal’s Clarence mine in New South Wales and its Panel & Pillar Partial Extraction Project that gave NEPEAN Longwall the opportunity to focus on innovative mining methods using existing technologies. Centennial’s project started with concepts generated by Robert Langford (Engineering Manager, Clarence Mine), which NEPEAN Longwall turned into reality with the new system.

“There are now a number of new bord and pillar coal mining projects emerging in Australia as open-cut operations seek to access deeper reserves and head underground,” O’Toole said. “Bord and pillar operations can extract the resource quite efficiently, but this can drop off in some conditions such as lower seams.”

Longwall mines, on the other hand, rely on the complete extraction of the coal in a panel arrangement. As the panel is mined, complete subsidence or caving of the overlying rock strata occurs into the mined-out area behind the working mine face.

Pillar extraction disappeared to a large extent from Australian mines in the late 1990s due to safety concerns about the unpredictability of roof behaviour while mining. “Pillar extraction is not possible on all leases, but where it is an option, we now have a concept that provides a controlled area for safe mining,” O’Toole said.

The new concept is called the Resource Extraction System or RES for short.

This system is a hybrid between longwall technologies and bord & pillar technologies. It uses powered roof supports to control the roof in the mining area and a continuous miner to cut coal in front of the roof supports. The services to power the roof supports are able to be mounted in a centre roadway with supports laid out to the right hand and left hand. In a simple system, there may be as few as 14 roof supports used.

In a simple RES-based system, there may be as few as 14 roof supports used

“In discussions with customers and geotechnical staff there is a view that, due to the narrow working face, the roof supports will never be in yield conditions and the extraction may be viewed as sub-critical – not resulting in surface subsidence,” the company said.

For coal cutting, a continuous miner and shuttle cars are employed. The continuous miner breaks away to the right and cuts in front of the roof supports for a distance of around 12 m, as it does so the canopies advance behind the cutter head and a forepole is extended towards the face. The continuous miner withdraws from the cut and the roof supports are advanced to the face. The process is then repeated on the left-hand side. In this way the system advances through the two pillars leaving behind a goaf.

In some applications the entire pillar can be removed, which has advantages for ventilation of the face; in other applications, the pillar may be partially removed, leaving a remnant.

For a capital spend which is less than a new continuous miner the mine can benefit from increased yield from the resource while maximising the value from existing production machinery, the company says.

The RES is designed to safely remove all or part of the pillar in a room & pillar environment, with operators and equipment under the protection of roof support canopies and roof supported by traditional longwall roof support methods.

The patent-protected system also provides new opportunities for providing continuity of production during longwall relocation or during discontinuities in longwall production and the ability to mine areas in mining leases previously considered high risk, the company says.

“Reflecting on the lessons from our first project, we realised that we had to think differently about the powered roof support,” O’Toole said. “This is not a longwall. The application is quite different and the method of operating the roof support is quite different. This realisation has led to us developing lighter structures with different hydraulics that are able to move quicker. With this approach the roof support will be less costly than a typical longwall unit.”

Flexibility will remain a unique selling point of this solution, yet there are some fixed requirements to consider.

As is currently envisaged, a narrow head miner is needed for the continuous miner to work effectively. Mining operations will also have to have suitable ventilation in place to support the operations. The application of RES is best suited to geologically-stable areas with the aid of roof supports with load bearing canopy forepoles and face sprags.

The flexibility comes from the modular design of the equipment, as well as the ability to tailor the system dependent on the size of the area to be extracted and the inherent geology. The services to run the roof supports, power distribution, pumps and motors, hydraulic tank, dump valve and filters are all mounted on a modular skid, which is advanced down the roadway by the system. In other applications of the system, these services may be monorail-mounted or Pantech-mounted.

The services to run the roof supports, power distribution, pumps and motors, hydraulic tank, dump valve and filters are all mounted on a modular skid, which is advanced down the roadway by the system

Depending on the panel layout, roof supports may be added for increased width or removed for a narrower working face.

Advanced technology has been incorporated into the first project with remote operation planned from the start of production from an underground control pod. This pod, located hundreds of metres from the face, allows control of the roof supports and the continuous miner. Existing technology has been incorporated including cameras, infra-red sensors, inclinometers, transducers, Wi-Fi, flameproof screens, gas monitoring, etc. Having the operators underground allows them to double their role and perform maintenance and inspections as required, NEPEAN says.

“We have partnered with NEPEAN Conveyors to develop other applications of the concept,” O’Toole said. “Some seams will not tolerate the ‘tip to face’ requirement when a continuous miner is used, so we also have a system based around a single armed shearer and a cutting capacity of 500-800 t/h.

“It is attractive if these systems can operate as an advancing face as this eliminates costly gate road development. The panel turns out of the main headings and then starts to produce coal off the face immediately. Our current project is solving the coal clearance, ventilation and services requirements of the advancing face. It is an exciting development as the projected capital outlay is significantly less than for systems requiring a continuous miner and continuous haulage.”

He concluded: “We have been committed to the underground coal industry for the last 25 years and the addition of these systems into our portfolio allows us to cater to the changing needs of the industry over the next 25 years.”

Weir Minerals provides slurry pipeline operators with predictive maintenance tool

Weir Minerals is launching Synertrex® IntelliWear™, a new digital wear monitoring system for spools and hoses in slurry pipelines.

Developed by the Weir Minerals digital specialists in Chile, the intelligent system addresses the increasing demand for optimisation and safety within the mining industry, the company said.

With the continual move towards digital solutions, Weir Minerals recognised the need to support customers with their ongoing maintenance. The company has now developed a solution that enables mine sites to monitor the condition and wear performance of their hoses and spools via a network of smart sensors connected to their DCS (Digital Control System).

“Equipment health is of the utmost importance, with many operators looking to streamline their operations for increased productivity and reduced downtime,” the company said. “The Synertrex IntelliWear monitoring system allows pipeline operators to check their equipment in the critical wear areas and perform predictive maintenance prior to any unplanned disruptions and downtime.”

With planned repair and replacement of equipment, the benefits to customers are invaluable, according to Weir Minerals.

“Unscheduled stops are reduced – leading to reduced costs of operation and maintenance,” it said. “Most importantly, safety on site is increased, as spools and hoses are replaced prior to failure, thus removing the risk of slurry leakage which can cause injury to workers on site and the environment.”

Eduardo Putz, Synertrex and Mechatronics Champion, Latin America, says the Synertrex IntelliWear monitoring system enables customers to have much more control over their equipment.

“With smart sensors they are able to analyse wear life, plan maintenance and control stock,” he said. “The ability to prevent non-scheduled maintenance further supports our customers in their sustainability goals.”

The Synertrex IntelliWear system has been developed and rigorously tested in a range of slurry conditions and mill circuit arrangements, according to Putz, with the company confident the platform will deliver a significant positive impact on customers’ operations.

The system is comprised of an intelligent digital sensor integrated into Weir Minerals’ Linatex® and Vulco® hoses and spools. A central control panel captures information in a single location, and a dashboard allows for visualisation and analysis of the equipment data via Synertrex.

“Digitalisation enables our customers to continue their normal operational duties, while large amounts of data is automatically analysed and interpreted in the background via the Synertrex platform,” Putz said.

A conductive wire is installed in the rubber lining at various levels of thickness. As the lining wears, it activates sensors to indicate the extent to which the rubber liner has been worn and in turn how much life is left.

A digital traffic light system has been developed to enable quick visual identification of the condition of the hose or spool. Less than 50% wear is green, between 50% and 70% wear is yellow, greater than 75% wear is red – indicating it is time for preventative maintenance. The conductive wire is installed along the entire Linatex or Vulco spool or hose, throughout its diameter.

The central monitoring panel collects data from the sensors in the field and sends it to the Synertrex platform, which allows operators or maintenance personnel to view it. Information collected can also be uploaded to the cloud to be viewed on a live dashboard, which is automatically updated every two minutes. The intelligent system enables operators to view real-time wear information from any device remotely – ensuring continual monitoring and better control over their equipment, Weir Minerals says. This control allows for optimisation, improved performance and the elimination of unwanted operating conditions.

Synertrex IntelliWear is available across the Weir Minerals network initially in the Americas, Africa and Asia Pacific.

Hydraulink reinforces HMS Group HMS 200 mini loader

HMS Group has teamed up with hydraulics hose and fittings company, Hydraulink, to further reinforce the quality and durability of its Australia-engineered products.

HMS Group, which incorporates HMS Equipment and Hetronic Australasia, develops equipment such as mini loaders, mini excavators, trenchers, culvert cleaners, three-arm safety solutions and multi-purpose remote-controlled machinery and systems for industries including mining.

One of the most recent HMS innovations involved Hydraulink developing and fitting complete suites of stainless steel hydraulic product, including all hoses and fittings, to HMS Group machinery such as its remote control HMS 200 mini loader used in aggressive environments where rust is an issue.

This flagship product is purpose-built for low-access, confined space and hazardous areas, taking staff out of harm’s way in multiple applications, while also saving hours of production time – including, for example, in applications such as clearing coal away from under conveyors. The HMS mini loader eliminates the need to isolate belts while cleaning, while also eliminating personnel/belt interaction, according to Hydraulink.

“Because machines such as the HMS 200 deliver such huge benefits, their users want to keep them in peak operating condition and available for work with maximum uptime,” Hydraulink Newcastle Service Supervisor, Jason Kurzydlo, said.

“Some of these machines – including both sale and rental types – are used in the most challenging situations imaginable, down in the mud, water, rock, coal and minerals typical of their customers’ daily challenges.

“To keep production flowing efficiently, and to maintain the highest availability of their machines in their access and safety roles, they are ideally equipped with stainless steel throughout their hydraulics.”

The suites of stainless steel products from Hydraulink are used for OEM and retrofit as required, with the Hydraulink team.

Kurzydlo, who has worked for more than a year as part of the engineering partnership formed by HMS Group Managing Director, Jamie Howard (pictured), added: “Hydraulics are vital to HMS Group’s machinery. They are the nerves and muscle of these ingenious machines and systems. HMS builds these machines to the highest standards of design, quality and integrity, taking its lead from its customers’ needs through design, fabrication and ongoing service.

“To ensure consistent top standards of hydraulics compliance and safety standards across the whole range of industries, they contract us to engineer the same standards of hose, fittings and hydraulic maintenance that we deliver to world leaders in industries they also serve.”

Howard says HMS machines are typically operated by one person using a remote control to access restricted and potentially hazardous areas.

“They can work underneath operating belts, for example, which means there can be zero downtime for conveyor belts and no production time lost due to spills, such as coal in mining, energy and loading terminals,” he said.

“These spillages can be costly and risky for workers to rectify because of the confined areas under belts and because belts often need to be shut down while a manual clean-up takes place, which can take up to three hours and cost as much as half a million dollars.

“In other applications, we have our technology installed to combat fire risk, for example, where they help curtail the risk of accidents, injuries and stoppages, which are major issues in the industries we serve.

“So, initiatives such as our partnership with Hydraulink are very valuable to the customer in terms of maximising uptime and safety and demonstrating our commitment to compliance and standards,” he said.

Hydraulink – which operates under the market signature ‘Best Under Pressure’ – delivers essential hydraulic hose, fittings and safety-compliant and traceable service expertise to industries requiring prompt, quality 24/7 service either on- or off-site through more than 400 Hydraulink service outlets throughout New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands, it says.

Kurzydlo says the group’s uniformly high professional excellence and training standards have paid off in the relationship with HMS Group, which has not had any call-back issues over the time they have been involved.

“This is a real compliment to us, because Jamie Howard’s entire operation is driven by quality and you have to meet their high standards to become part of it,” he said.