Difficult trading times for mining companies in a troubled economy have increased the necessity for introducing efficiency gains into their operations in order to maximise their profitability.
The increase in the payload on mining trucks to ensure productivity and substantial profit was at the core of the Australian Journal of Mining’s Mining Dump Trucks conference held on December 9 and 10 last year.
A number of experts attended the conference in Brisbane to look at major issues associated with dump truck tray design and to discuss the best methods for improving productivity through streamlined operations. Experts and case studies also pinpointed efficiency gains that would lead to improved throughput and greater yield.
Brian Louden, the Managing Director of Big Tyre, spoke about maximising the longevity of tyres to prevent its shortages.
“Good records and reports are essential for effective tyre management,” he said.
Reports had to contain information including the cost of the tyre, dates tyres were fitted and removed, reasons for tyre removal, tyre specifications and identifications, the tyre position on the vehicle and the distance it travelled.
Mr Louden outlined techniques for improving the life of a tyre including the introduction of a vehicle maintenance program, strategies to ensure safe vehicle operations, taking note of site management considerations and the procurement of suitable tyres.
He also discussed the options available for retreading and new repair techniques. Mr Louden recommended the replacement of broken cables known as the Ardon System. This allowed 15 cables or more to be repaired and although it was expensive, it was more economical.
Mr Louden concluded his address with his views on the future of tyres.
Michael Barker, Project Manager of Kador Engineering outlined his company’s project of designing Zinifex 830E Komatsu Dump body.
Komatsu approached Kador about building a durable mine specific body as a standard dump body design was unsuitable for the particular features of the Zinifex mine rock.
“Zinifex (formerly Century Zinc) were interested in a very heavy duty body to resist impact, but obviously as lightweight as possible,” Mr Barker said. “The task of designing the new type of 830E body was contracted to CMP Engineers who working with Kador, Komatsu & Zinifex finalised a concept.”
A key feature of the Zinifex body was a high hardness 32mm floor plate which was equivalent to two 25 mm plates.
The plan’s concept was to operate the bodies without wear plates which were to be added later in the life of the body.
Mr Barker said 30 bodies were currently in service and that the design had been a success.
“They have proven to be a good compromise of durability and low tare weight,” he said. “There are lighter weight bodies available but these tend to require significant ongoing maintenance.”
Nick Griffith, Business Development Manager of Ground Breaking Innovations Pty Ltd, spoke about the process of benchmarking the productivity performance of mining dump trucks worldwide.
“Benchmarking is a tool to identify your position and performance against yourself and the rest of the world,” he said. “[It] is the process of seeking out and studying the best internal practices that produce superior performance.”
Mr Griffith said benchmarking identified the strengths and weaknesses of a company or organisation to determine key areas for opportunity and showing what was achievable and why.
He outlined a five step plan:
1. Data collection
2. Data entry and report production
3. Evaluation report preparation
4. Discussion of findings with company/organisation
5. Improvement action plan
Mr Griffiths said accurate data and interpretation were key factors to ensuring the effectiveness of benchmarking.
Other key speakers who addressed the conference included Linton Kirk, Chief Mining Engineer of Coffey Mining, who spoke about the geology and mine planning for body and bucket design of dump trucks. Chris le Cornu, Project Manager of Rio Tinto Alcan, outlined methods to maximise truck productivity at Weipa. Paul Clarke, General Manager Perth Operations of Austin Engineering Ltd, spoke about maximising payload and capacity potential. Gene Kostecki, CEO of Alloy Steel discussed reducing tray weight; and carryback and wear with wear liner design. Peter Knights, BMA Chair and Professor of Mining Engineering of The University of Queensland spoke about revising maintenance tactics to optimise fleet uptime. Dr Graham Lumley, Chief Executive Office of Ground Breaking Innovations Pty Ltd, highlighted ways to improve the problems associated with matching truck capacity to loader capacity. Patrick Glynn, Project Leader CSIRO of Queensland Centre for Advanced Technology, spoke about avoidance systems for large mine haul trucks utilising 360º proximity detection doppler radar.
Associate sponsors of the event were Queensland based engineering firms, Kador Engineering and Austin Engineering who also demonstrated their services to delegates.
A range of delegates were in attendance from across the mining industry ranging from Procurement Managers, Mining Engineers, Operations and Sales and Marketing managers.