Moving massive volumes of mine ore, waste or product is never easy, cheap or trouble-free, but new material handling tech can help smooth the bumps, cut costs and break bottlenecks
By Russell A. Carter, Contributing Editor
In the mining industry, material at rest doesn’t make money. Regardless of whether it’s newly mined ore, concentrates or even tailings, a near-constant, smooth progression of raw feed, finished product and waste from one location to another is necessary for planning, productivity and profits. An exception to the rule might apply to heap-leach operations, but even those depend on material being in the right place, at the right time, and in the right condition or blend.
That’s why successful mine operators are masters of material handling. In an industry that moves billions of tons of dirt and rock annually at surface operations and where new underground projects are targeting mining rates of 100,000 tons per day (t/d) or more, a few percentage points of material-handling inefficiency can translate into lower profit margins.