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Moving More For Less

The industry is asking for conveyors with higher capacities, lower energy costs and safer, more reliable components, along with less environmental impact. Here’s how system suppliers are meeting those requests.

Conveyor systems offer mine operators a seemingly simple solution to a perpetual problem — getting bulk material from Point A to Point B in the quickest, lowest-cost and most reliable way possible. And at the most basic level, a sufficient number of frames, pulleys, idlers and motors, and a roll of conveyor belting can be arranged to transport just about any type of mined material almost anywhere. But, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Simplicity and engineering elegance are not necessarily one and the same, and the frequent need to assign critical production flow to a single conveyor system can elevate the risk of high downtime costs to a level that makes faulty design, component failures or unplanned maintenance unacceptable.

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Stockpile Volumetrics: The Drone-based Solutions Buyer’s Guide

Suppliers offer turnkey solutions that reveal a trend toward enabling eventual continuous monitoring

Everyone in the drone-based stockpile volumetrics solutions sector could technically be labeled a startup. The sector is maybe a half decade old, and even the tenured players have barely been at it that long. Nonetheless, an idea whose time has come is usually punctual. Thus, the field is growing. And at mine sites around the world, increasingly inexpensive, accurate and fast drone-based solutions are changing expectations and workflows, and could soon make obsolete some longstanding inventory auditing norms.

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U.S. Prep Plant Census 2017

Interest in processing projects returns

The worst may have passed for the coal processing sector. The good news is that two new plants were added to the U.S. Prep Plant Census in 2017. Another encouraging sign is that the engineering firms that design and build these plants have noticed a renewed interest in projects. The recent shake-out in the coal business led to a few more plants being listed as idle this year, while a few older idled plants were removed after it was confirmed that they were scrapped.

The total number of U.S. prep plants dropped from 252 to 248 and the number of idled plants increased from 59 to 61. The census lists 17 anthracite plants in Pennsylvania. The total number of operating plants washing bituminous coal has now dropped to 170. West Virginia remains the leader with 70 plants (29% are idle), followed by Kentucky (52, 38% idle), and Pennsylvania (22 bituminous and two idle). Virginia and Ohio have 19 and 18 prep plants, respectively, with only a few idle.

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Optimizing Conveyor Belt Cleaner Tension to Maximize Performance and Service Life

Maintaining correct and consistent blade pressure is key to effective belt cleaning

Given the number of conveyor-related injuries that occur during routine maintenance and cleanup, every bulk material handler has a vested interest in technologies to help reduce hazards and prevent injuries. Seemingly mundane tasks such as adjusting belt cleaners and removing spillage often require employees to work in close proximity to the moving conveyor, where even incidental contact can result in serious injury in a split second. Further, spillage can contribute to the risk of fire by interfering with pulleys and idlers and by providing potential fuel. Even worse, in confined spaces, airborne particles can create the right ingredients for an explosion.

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Winning the War Against Wear

‘The best defense is a good offense’ applies to many activities, including games and military combat. Metal wear generally can’t be defeated, but proactive product selection can be effective in battling abrasion to a draw.

Mining takes its wealth from the Earth, which in turn imposes its own expensive toll on the equipment used to dig, move and crush coal and rock — wearing down parts and equipment at a rate that costs the mining industry untold millions in replacement costs and downtime. In the most extreme mining conditions, it can be a race between abrasion and corrosion to see which process can destroy a part faster (See sidebar article, p. 33).

Miners typically employ a three-pronged approach — prevention, detection and repair — to battle the problem, and industry suppliers are providing new weapons in all three areas. Here’s a look at the latest wear-protection products and technology.

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Booyco Implements PDS in South Africa

A new system gains traction among underground coal operators

Booyco Electronics announced in July that its Proximity Detection System (PDS) had been successfully implemented at South African miner Sudor Coal’s Weltevreden operation. The mine, near Emalahleni, has three sections working a seam at 60 meters (m) below the surface. Rollout started in March 2016 and occurred in two phases, Booyco reported. As a mobile equipment detection system, PDS offers a number of benefits, and could help ensure the miner meets national government regulations mandating such systems at mines across the country, Booyco reported.

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