Underground Electric Haulage Attracts Fresh Interest

Those who see hybrid and full electric drive systems for mine haulage as the way forward may be encouraged by new orders received by GIA Industri for the two models in the Kiruna Electric Truck range. Six trucks are to be delivered during 2009 to customers in North America. And, orders for electric-powered LHDs are also increasing, according to Sandvik.

The Kiruna Electric Truck system is the result of joint venture initiated in 1981 by the Swedish companies LKAB, Kiruna Truck and ASEA (now ABB) to develop an inclined ore haulage system primarily for underground mining. The system could be installed either in a new mine instead of shaft hoisting or in an existing mine with shaft hoisting to haul ore up a ramp to the shaft skip-loading station from new mining areas below the base of the hoisting shaft. The first model was the 50-mt-payload K1050E and the first sale was in 1988 to Zinkgruvan. By 1995, when Kiruna Truck and ABB introduced the K635E, 16 trucks were in operation at mines in Sweden (Zinkgruvan), Canada (Hope Brook, Kidd Creek) and Australia (Mount Isa). The new 35-mt-payload K635E was launched at the Zinkgruvan mine in Sweden and currently two more K1050E vehicles are being built at Kiruna Truck for Inco’s McCreedy East project

Although Kiruna Truck and, especially, their larger electrical system partner ABB, took this opportunity to introduce the technology to a number of potential customers at Zinkgruvan and the factories it is probably fair to say that the immediate response was underwhelming. On the other hand inclined haulage using diesel-powered trucks from Atlas Copco, Caterpillar and Sandvik became increasingly popular, notably in Australia.

In 1999 GIA Industri acquired Kiruna Truck and, continuing the alliance with ABB, has since made technical improvements to the truck design that increase flexibility and meet current standards. For instance the newest vehicles have Tier 3-compliant diesel engines for operating off the trolley line instead of the previous very heavy battery. According to GIA Industri, Kiruna Electric trucks are about twice as fast as diesel units on a 15% incline so that for a given haul route fewer units will be required. Noise levels are significantly lower than those of equivalent diesel vehicles and of course exhaust emissions are minimal in normal operation so that less ventilation is required.

Perceptions about the support required and available may have predisposed mine operators to favor diesel trucks over the Kiruna Electric system, but GIA Industri and ABB say they offer a totally committed project development and supply package, including a transportation study; calculation of the optimal ramp specification; preparation of the necessary layouts for loading, dumping, turning and passing; preparation of documents needed for approval by the local mining authorities involved in the project; design, delivery and installation of the trolley line and power supply; installation and commissioning of the whole system; training of operators and maintenance staff; provision of inspection, maintenance and reliability services plus spare parts inventory and management services and systems and worldwide support.

The truck has remained a niche product but deliveries have been made to new customers in China, Spain and to Kazakhstan, where KazZinc installed the system at the Maleevsky mine in 2006. And recent trends in energy costs have led a number of mining companies to evaluate or re-evaluate the technology. As a result, Vale Inco in Canada has ordered four K1050ED trucks (the D indicating the use of diesel power off-trolley) and the Stillwater PGM mine in Montana, USA has asked for two K635ED trucks. All of these were ordered for 2009 delivery. Of Vale Inco’s four machines, two are for the Coleman mine and two for Creighton, both these nickel mines being located near Sudbury, Ontario.

Just as GIA Industri has seen increasing interest in the electric truck so Sandvik is experiencing an upturn in demand for the electric powered versions of its LHD range, which covers the payload range 1,000–25,000 kg (2,200–55,100 lb). Customers range from an apatite mine in Arctic Russia to Codelco in Chile. Sandvik said that recent models have demonstrated greater electrical reliability in operation than some of their predecessors: one recently delivered machine ran for a record number of hours without any electrical problems. The level of interest has encouraged the company to trial a further upgraded model that is designed as a platform for Sandvik’s Automine automation system as well as for manual operation.

Bucyrus Expands Training Resources

Bucyrus International, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA-based manufacturer of mining shovels, draglines and rotary drills, recently announced that it is introducing several new training products and services in 2009. These include:

–Now available for purchase, the company’s VAST (Value Added Simulation Training) product is designed to train operators in the safe and efficient operation of a Bucyrus shovel.   A PC-based shovel simulator, VAST is intended to reduce training costs, increase productivity, and improve training effectiveness. A short video is available for viewing on the Bucyrus Web site at http://www.bucyrus.com.

Computer-Based Training Modules (CBT)–A series of CBT’s are currently under development for the company’s model 495 shovel. Modules contain a series of lessons that begin with the basics and then advances to more complex information. They are narrated and provide periodic knowledge checks and examinations throughout.

Learning Management System (LMS)–Bucyrus is implementing a LMS to efficiently deliver CBT’s to its customers via the Web. The LMS is a delivery tool that also captures student data and test scores.

Regional Training–Plans are under way for classes to be offered regionally in the USA and Canada, as well as at the company’s South Milwaukee Technical Training Center. Course topics vary and can be customized to suit customer need.

The training center, according to the company, will be ready during the third quarter of 2009 and will consist of two general training rooms and one electrical training room. The electrical room will be outfitted with a variety of simulators that can be used for training purposes as well as for diagnosing and troubleshooting problems on both AC and DC machines.

In-Field Training–Bucyrus also said it is improving its support for operator, mechanical and electrical training through the expansion of resources available to customers. These resources include additional instructors and standardized electronic training presentations.

Consumables Supplier Minova Extends Global Reach

While recently reported acquisitions have strengthened the product range offered by Australian-based Minova, the company remains focused primarily on the mining consumables markets in Europe, the USA and Australia. However, said CEO Michael Reich, the company has identified Latin America, Russia, China, India and Canada as potential major growth areas. To reinforce present activity in these markets Minova has developed a new regional structure which, Reich says, is geared to offering solutions locally based on the whole group’s expertise and to permit operational expansion on the ground when required.

Exemplifying the possibilities, Minova has further developed its business in China with the establishment of a roof bolt production plant in Tai’an.  Since its formation in late 2005, Ruichy Minova has experienced increasing demand for its products from the Chinese mining authorities as they continue their drive for improved safety throughout the country’s vast mining industry.  Ruichy Minova, located in Beijing, says it is now recognized by the Chinese mining industry as a leading supplier of strata reinforcement and ground control technology for enhancing underground safety and increasing productivity. This success is due to the ability to adapt Minova technologies and products and to deliver local solutions which suit the specific demands of the Chinese market. The China operation has now become a major contributor to the Minova Group.

Ruichy Minova’s Beijing factory manufactures a wide range of resin products including Bevedol, Bevedan, Carbofill and also Minova blended cement grouts such as Tekseal and Tekflex sprayable membranes. All the application pumps and associated equipment are designed specifically to meet the demands of individual customers and are produced in China.

The new roof bolt and other steel components production plant in Tai’an, situated in the western Shandong province centered round Mount Tai, is being fitted to meet the standards of Minova’s parent company, Orica, with full production expected to be in place by the second quarter of 2009. When this new manufacturing facility for roof bolts is up and running, Ruichy Minova will be able to provide a full range of ground support technology products to China’s mines, according to the company.

Terex: Three into Two May Go

Late in January this year Terex announced it is considering consolidating the materials processing components of the group’s Materials Processing & Mining business in the United Kingdom to some extent.

In 1999 Terex bought three UK companies—the crusher and mobile crushing plant manufacturer Pegson, based at Coalville in Leicestershire, England; Powerscreen, which builds mobile screening and washing equipment in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland; and Finlay, a manufacturer of crushing and screening plant based in Omagh, also in Northern Ireland. Today Pegson employs 318 people, Powerscreen 490 and Finlay 315.

The probable outcome of the exercise will be consolidation, in stages through 2009 and 2010, of screening equipment production at a Center of Excellence at Dungannon and of crushing equipment manufacture at a Center of Excellence in Omagh. The Coalville facility will continue to house the Terex Global Chamber Design Center for crusher development.

Kieran Hegarty, vice-president of Terex Material Processing, commented: “We look forward to the many opportunities for synergies, efficiency and concentration of talent that these ‘centres of excellence‘ would afford us. By focusing on similar products at one location, we would be able to provide our customers with the best possible value offerings; therefore, we firmly believe,” Hegarty added, “that the proposed changes would allow us to retain and grow our strong global presence in the crushing and screening market.”

UK Specialist Offers new Safety Monitoring Services

In quick succession, Nottingham-based 3D Laser Mapping has launched two new services for the global mining sector based on technology now well-established in the industry.

First the firm announced a Global Operations Center in Nottingham will remotely monitor mining operations, using data streaming technology that is already receiving information from 3D Laser Mapping SiteMonitor systems working at gold, platinum and diamond mines in Africa. This service will provide another pair of eyes and ears for our users on a 24/7 basis, said company managing director Dr Graham Hunter.

Now 3D Laser Mapping will also offer the SiteMonitor system on flexible lease contracts in order to provide the latest technology with full support without the customer having to commit to any capital expenditure.

3D says that SiteMonitor can capture up to 11,000 point measurements per second, to an accuracy of 10mm and at a range of up to 1,000 meters, using a fully portable sensor and a high-resolution digital camera. The data is analyzed , by proprietary software that tracks and compares displacement measurements over time to provide early warning of potential failures in an active mining area.

Metso Cuts Finland Workforce, Expands in China

Metso’s negotiations with Mining and Construction Technology employees in Tampere and Helsinki, Finland, in January this year, resulted in 112 redundancies and temporary layoffs. The negotiations affected all employees of Metso Minerals Inc, a total of approximately 1,200 personnel. Twenty-nine of the redundancies concern blue-collar employees and 83 white-collar employees. The redundancies were to be implemented by the end of March. The temporary layoffs concern a maximum of 1,000 employees and will apply for a fixed period or until further notice, depending on the workload in each department. These measures are a consequence of the reduction in the order book and reduced operating levels resulting from the global market situation, as well as the need to reorganize specific operations, the company says.

In contrast, Metso most recently announced an expansion of its crusher factory in Tianjin, China—made on the tenth anniversary of the start of its Mining and Construction Technology manufacturing activities in the country. The value of the expansion investment, which was mainly implemented in 2008, was €5 million and included a new workshop and warehouse, as well as an upgrade of the factory building and production.

Metso began manufacturing crushers in Tianjin in rented premises in 1999 and moved the now expanded wholly-owned premises in 2002. The expansion will double production capacity at the plant and increase the factory’s total floor space to more than 7,500 m2. The manufacturing portfolio will be extended to include several new small crusher models and the factory will also start producing screens and feeders, allowing Metso’s other manufacturing units to focus on larger and tailor-made crusher models. The new plant layout made possible by the expansion is also expected to increase manufacturing efficiency.

In addition to the Chinese and Asian markets, the Tianjin factory serves Metso’s mining and construction customers on a global basis. The expansion strengthens the facility’s position as one of the main manufacturing units in Metso’s Construction business line. The Tianjin factory currently employs approximately 100 people.

Lifts for Boliden’s Aitik Mine Expansion

To facilitate the maintenance and inspection of the facilities created by Boliden’s Aitik 36 expansion project near Gällivare in northern Sweden, Alimak Hek signed a contract in the spring of 2008 to provide seven Alimak rack and pinion-driven lifts. These are currently being installed at different stages of the mineral processing plant, including crushing, flotation, dewatering and – first – grinding. The lifts are a part of Boliden’s total investment of SEK6 billion in this open-pit mine, which will include a new modern concentrating plant the will double production capacity, from today’s 18 to 36 million mt/y ore.

The Alimak lifts accommodate lifting heights between 13.5 m and 48 m and payload capacities between 400 kg to 1,800 kg. They are equipped with the modern ALC-II microprocessor-based control system, emergency phone, and overload sensing device.

Minerals Processing Solutions for Russian Gold

Outotec’s Finland based mineral processing technology business has been awarded contracts valued at about €8 million to deliver flotation cells and thickeners for the OJSC Albazino Resources gold project. The agreements follow from the grinding mills contract signed in Spring 2008 for the same project. OJSC Albazino Resources is a subsidiary of Russia’s largest silver and third largest gold producer, Polymetal. Deliveries during 2009 will raise the total value of Outotec equipment at Albazino to around €20 million. The 82-km2 Albazino ore field is located in the Polina Osipenko district of the Khabarovsk region, about 150 km to the west of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur.