The most efficient way to transport material from point A to point B is not necessarily a straight line
By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief
The theme of this edition of Engineering & Mining Journal (E&MJ) is material handling. Really, no informed discussion of material handling can take place without conveyors. At some point between the pit and the port, conveyors enter the transportation chain and, with all the improvements taking place, the mining business will only continue to embrace their use.
Today, curved conveyors span tens of kilometers. Hugging the ground, they roll with hills and make turns around bends. The companies that specialize in these bulk material-handling marvels make it look simple, but designing these conveyor systems is an engineering art form. The use of curved conveyor systems eliminates transfer points, a source for noise and fugitive dust, as well as the constant maintenance on chute work, wiper blades, water sprays and skirting systems.
The use of conveyors also eliminates a lot of trucks rumbling through towns and the associated fuel usage and maintenance costs. Depending on the project, belt conveyors require up to 90% less primary energy than comparable truck haulage. Mines can often reduce operating costs for haulage by several million dollars per year. Performing a cost comparison will quickly reveal promising results. What follows is a collection of interesting conveyor projects.