Suppliers unveil autonomous, emissions-free equipment for miners and new technology for processing plants
By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief
Using a ‘quick charge’ station, Sandvik LH307B can be ready for use in approximately 15 minutes.
Suppliers from the Nordic region are largely responsible for a great deal of the advances in mining equipment and mineral processing technology. Their ability to drill through and crush hard rock ores earned them a great deal of respect and they continue to improve with time. More recently, it seems the focus has turned to autonomy and environmental sustainability for the mines, and improvements in recovery and reliability for the mills. All of this is a concerted effort to improve health and safety, lower operating costs and reduce the impact on the environment.
What sets these suppliers apart is their experience and appreciation of the cyclic nature of the mining business. During good times and bad, they are committed to advancing the industry and supporting the miners who are confronted with lower metals prices and rising costs and an increasing regulatory burden.
As an example, Sandvik has been developing automation solutions for mines for more than a decade. An underground mine in Australia recently became the first 100% automated underground operation using the systems it developed. The supplier’s rich history of developing solutions by working together with customers and looking at their everyday needs has led to a scalable automation offering, and its installed base of automated equipment continues to grow. “There is a marked increase in interest and activity surrounding automation,” said Patrick Murphy, president, Rock Drills and Technologies, for Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology. “Our products have logged millions of safe, productive hours of automated operation in underground applications, and these include the first self-driving loaders and underground trucks in the world. Those systems were commissioned more than 10 years ago, so it follows that we also have the most experienced team in the business.”
With the connectivity and digitalization of everything continuing to advance at a rapid pace, great possibilities are opening up. “We have the ability to measure more on our equipment than we ever have before, but the key question our customers are asking is: ‘How do we get actionable insights from this data?’ When we combine the onboard data with other data sets available from our customers’ processes, we can, in fact, get amazing insights to help our customers immediately improve their operations,” Murphy said. “This is an area in which we are investing considerable effort and we expect new products to be launched around the data-driven productivity theme in 2017.” There is no science fiction about this, Murphy explained. Miners will continue to see more solutions designed to increase their productivity, reduce total costs of ownership, and ensure reliability, efficiency and safety through high technology.
Sandvik Goes Emissions Free
Mining companies and suppliers constantly strive to develop responsible mining practices with safe and cost-effective production. One initiative in this quest is to reduce the use of diesel-powered equipment underground, which has a positive impact on the health of the miners, reduces ventilation costs and improves the environment.
Prior to MINExpo, Sandvik announced that Goldcorp had opted to use some of its equipment for its Borden Lake project, which is planned as an all-electric underground gold mine (See Suppliers Report, p. 71). “We can provide a full solution for development equipment for the mine because of our breadth of offering,” said Dale Rakochy, business line manager, underground equipment, Sandvik. “It’s a fully integrated battery technology where you don’t have to remove, handle or swap batteries underground, providing improved safety for operators and maintenance crews.”
One of the equipment models already ordered for this project is the Sandvik DD422iE, a battery-trammed jumbo, which was on display at MINExpo 2016 in Las Vegas. The DD422iE generates zero emissions while maneuvering between headings. This improves health and safety for miners working underground. Less diesel usage in a mine thanks to diesel-free drilling can ease ventilation requirements, while also reducing associated diesel logistics and maintenance expenses. Using the mine’s existing electric infrastructure, the Sandvik driveline technology enables the battery to recharge during the drilling cycle. The battery will even recharge while Sandvik DD422iE is tramming downhill, using energy generated by the braking system. The long-lasting pack will power the drill efficiently throughout its lifetime.
Sandvik also introduced a battery-powered loader, the 6.7-metric-ton payload LH307B. The battery-powered LHD has the same level of independence as diesel-powered LHDs without the related diesel emissions and costs. Using a “quick charge” station, the LHD can be ready for use in approximately 15 minutes. Its lithium titanate oxide (LTO) battery technology enables rapid recharging, providing continuous operation with a single battery pack—there is no need to swap batteries during or between shifts. Sandvik said liquid cooling guarantees a long battery life across a broad range of ambient temperatures.
Atlas Copco Focuses on Automation
Discussing the potential impact of today’s innovations, Johan Halling, president of Atlas Copco’s Mining and Rock Excavation Business Area, said he is optimistic about the future of mining. “The global mining industry has experienced downtrends before, and each time it has managed to bounce back and become even stronger, largely thanks to the development of innovative products and new thinking,” Halling said. “I am certain that the current downtrend is no exception.”
“At Atlas Copco, we are totally committed to helping our customers tackle the present downtrend by offering our extensive know-how in every area of the business,” Halling said. “That’s why our innovations share the same objective—to help our customers do things easier, faster, safer and more cost-effectively than was previously possible.”
The ﬁrst automated drill for the small-face drilling segment, the Boomer S2’s COP MD20 rock drill is quick and dampening technology improves drill steel economy.
He also explained that Atlas Copco’s mission is not just to develop solutions that increase productivity and cut costs, but to also provide solutions that are environmentally sustainable as well. “We believe that this combination is the right formula for long-term success and makes us an ideal partner for future growth and prosperity,” Halling said.
The recent advances made by Atlas Copco in automation are considerable and some have been described as game-changers for the industry. A prime example is the recently released Boomer S2 drill rig. It is the first automated drill in the small face drilling segment. According to Atlas Copco, no other rig in this class can match its productivity at such low operational cost. The rig is said to work harder and longer with strengthened components and increased parts protection resulting in minimal internal wear, faster drilling and overall durability. The Boomer S2’s COP MD20 rock drill is said to be 10% faster in blast and bolt hole drilling than comparable rock drills on the market, while at the same time Atlas Copco’s dampening technology improves drill steel economy and increases drill uptime. A new, intuitive interface, upgraded software, automated add-ons and user-friendly environment add up to safer, more productive rock drilling.
For open-pit mining, Atlas Copco also debuted a fully autonomous, cabless Pit Viper 275 blasthole drill at MINExpo. Known as the PV-275 CA (C=cabless and A=autonomous) for now, the drill included the full suite of Atlas Copco products required to run an autonomous drill. While it was designed and built as a concept for the MINExpo show, it was fully operational and the technology on display is identical to the technology that Atlas Copco has been using for years on semi- and fully autonomous drills. The heart of the autonomous Pit Viper is the Rig Control System (RCS) launched first by Atlas Copco over a decade ago. This CAN-bus system provides the building blocks for a fully autonomous, and now cabless Pit Viper.
So what’s really different on the PV-275 CA compared to the PV-275? The most notable feature is the missing cab on the drill, but in place of the cab is a terminal with an RCS display, controls, a stool and a table. At some point during the drill’s life, some troubleshooting or maintenance will require some operational control from the deck and this terminal accommodates those rare occasions. The PV-275 CA was designed to have as much commonality as the PV-275 as possible. The location of the terminal wiring makes it simple to select a cab or terminal without sacrificing lead time. This also demonstrates the ease of removing a cab in the field for those who want to transition their own PV-275 to a cabless, fully autonomous operation. A cabinet within a PV-275 cab houses several RCS components such as the GPS radios, safety system, network hardware, Common Communication Interface data platform (CCI), etc. In the PV-275 CA, these components have all now been moved to a ground level cabinet. The cabinet is lighted and easily accessible.
Solutions for Fines Classification
Metso recently introduced a new generation of fine classification technologies, the MHC Series Hydrocyclone and the UltraFine Screen. These next-generation, fine classification technologies are expected to improve efficiency and profitability. Designed specifically for grinding circuit classification duties, the MHC cyclones were developed in collaboration with Metso’s simulation and modeling scientists. The design focuses on optimized process performance, superior wear component design, and improved ease of maintenance. Metso said these new hydrocyclones are ideal for classification duties ranging from primary grinding to fine regrinding applications across the full range of mineral types.
Metso’s UltraFine Screen applies highly accurate and cost-effective separation technologies with reduced energy and water consumption.
In the area of wet fine screening classification, the UltraFine Screen provides one of the most accurate and cost-effective separation technologies through reduced energy and water consumption. It directly classifies particles by size via the physical dimensions of the screening media aperture. The improved separation efficiency and resulting reductions in material handling and comminution energy lead to substantial savings in the overall operating costs. Additionally, screening performance is less influenced by plant operational variability and can positively impact downstream recovery processes.
Relative to other fine screen technologies, the UltraFine Screen doubles the screening area of a single machine. This is achieved through its modular design consisting of up to 10 individual screen decks nested together into a single vibrating assembly along with a feed distribution system to ensure accurate and even feed distribution across the width of each individual screen deck. This reduces the space and infrastructure required for integration into the plant.
FLSmidth Signs JV With Chinese Supplier
Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, FLSmidth announced on the opening day of MINExpo 2016 that it had entered into a 50/50 joint-venture (JV) agreement with China’s Northern Heavy Industries Group (NHI), which is based in Shenyang, for the design and supply of mining equipment targeting the midmarket segment. The JV will be established with its own board of directors and management under the name NHI-Fuller (Shenyang) Mining Co. Ltd., which will financially report results as part of the Minerals Division in FLSmidth. Subject to obtaining regulatory approval, it is anticipated that NHI Fuller will be operational in the first quarter of 2017.
“In 2014, we announced that part of our strategy in the Minerals Division was to enter the expanding midmarket for mining equipment,” said Manfred Schaffer, group executive vice president for FLSmidth’s Minerals Dvision. “With the NHI Group, we have now found a perfect industrial partner for this quest.” Initially, NHI-Fuller will supply crushing products, but the goal of the JV will be to become the leading midmarket mining equipment suppliers for other product lines as well.
Doofor’s Drifting Technology
The DF538L rock drill has been modified to achieve more capacity while consuming less power, according to Finland’s Doofor. The rock drill provides 13-kW percussion power with its high-frequency piston and the newly designed energy saving valve. The unit is equipped with two OMS-series rotation motors as a standard for high torque. According to Kalle Kuusento, managing director, Doofor, two motors make a clear difference on its performance.
The Doofor DF538L rock drill is light and powerful even with two motors.
“With DF538L, it is possible to maintain high rotation speed in rock drilling complemented with the torque (295 Nm) needed when drilling horizontally in sedimentary rock. The rotation gear is robust and durable for both surface and underground use,” Kuusento said. “This remarkably economical hydraulic drifter is something that our customers have asked for. It is powerful but very light and agile even with two motors. The drifter weighs only 83 kg. Therefore, it is suitable for many types of drill platforms such as excavators, even the smaller ones.”
The maximum hole diameter for the DF538L is 57 mm in hard rock, such as granite. With softer rock, for example sandstone, a larger hole diameter can be achieved. The rock drill has a stainless steel flushing head that allows utilization of water or air for drill hole flushing. It can be equipped with R32, R38 and T38 shank adapters.
Allu Unleashes Monster Material Processing Bucket
At an open house just before MINExpo at its headquarters in Finland, Allu launched the G 4-32F rock-crushing bucket, which is designed to be mounted on 250- to 300-ton front shovels. The company is offering mines a chance to reorganize the loading process and deal with dilution in the pit. Instead of just using the excavator to load ore containing large quantities of waste rock onto haul trucks, the excavator can now screen the ore, while loading at the same time. For some operations, using this method allows them to leave much of the waste rock in the pit. Measuring 3.8 m x 3.7 m x 4.8 m, this giant weighs 32 tons and is built to tough Nordic standards using the highest quality steels and components. It is also can be equipped with Allu’s DARE data reporting system to remotely monitoring the condition of the equipment condition and its processing performance.
Allu’s G 4-32F rock-crushing bucket is designed to be mounted on 250- to 300-ton front shovels.
Normet Offers New Large Shotcrete Kit
The Alpha 1430 Kit from Finland’s Normet is built on a self-supporting frame that fits a wide variety of truck chassis, enabling miners to efficiently and economically configure a concrete sprayer for medium to large cross-section tunnels. Equipped with the Normet NSP pump and XEP accelerator dosing system, the Alpha 1430 Kit enables the spraying of cross sections up to 12 m high and 20 m wide.
The Alpha 1430 shotcrete spraying kit ﬁts a wide variety of truck chassis, enabling miners to conﬁgure a system for medium to large cross-section tunnels.
Normet is manufacturing the units in Finland and Chile. “The success story of the site-proven truck-based sprayer Alpha 1430P/PC continues and now goes global,” explained Marcelo Anabalon, regional vice president for Latin America.
“The latest innovation from our Chilean R&D organization enters the market with different versions that can be mounted to almost any commercially available truck chassis with suitable payload capacity,” said Ilpo Martikainen, sprayed concrete product line manager for Normet. “This piece of equipment is well suited for operations where the same concrete spraying units are used in different headings or slopes with different cross section dimensions. The possibility to drive this unit on normal roads (local restrictions may apply) widens the usage of Normet’s technologies to a totally new level.”
The Alpha 1430 Kit’s structure and modularity gives the flexibility to add features such as a compressor and electrohydraulic power pack. Also, changing the kit from one chassis to another is made easy. “We understand that contractors are spraying more and more concrete around the world as this ground support method continues to gain popularity,” said Mike Rispin, senior vice president for global sales and marketing. “We continue to conceive of innovative and unique ways to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness, whether through our equipment technology, like this Alpha 1430 Kit, or with state-of-the-art construction chemicals, complemented by the expertise of our workforce.”
Hydraulic Drives Handle High Torque Applications
While still less common than electromechanical drives, Hägglands hydraulic drives, especially the low-speed, high-torque type, are becoming a more popular choice for a growing number of apron and belt feeders. Why the enthusiasm? The reason is the same for bucketwheel reclaimers, ship unloaders, car-dumper systems, kilns and more. Similar to these applications, apron and belt feeders operate in harsh environments, where they face both high starting torque and frequent load spikes.
When sizing feeder drives, a major factor is the necessary starting torque. High shear force increases starting torque compared to running torque, often by more than 100% on apron feeders and by at least 50%-75% on belt feeders. If coarse ore and larger materials are involved, even more starting torque may be needed. The breakaway torque experienced at startup can be as much as 200% of the running torque—and sometimes even more. However, hydraulic drives allow precise limiting of the maximum torque, which protects the feeder belts and chains.
Direct hydraulic drives are best equipped to handle high starting torque and torque peaks. The electrical motor always run at synchronous speed regardless of what speed the feeder works with. That means that it is possible to use the installed power optimally. No oversizing of these drives is necessary to cope with the tough feeder starts, as is the case with electromechanical drives.
A further advantage of hydraulic drives is their handling of changes and differences in running speed.
The simplicity of the hydraulic drive chain is also important for maintenance, since feeders are often installed where space is limited. While electromechanical drives cover most of one side of the feeder, hydraulic drives leave the drive side largely open, providing easy access for maintenance work.