New long-life coal chutes and bins that eliminate clogging, excessive wear and costly breakdowns in corrosive mining environments are being introduced by Chute Technology.
The new minerals processing technology, designed using Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) techniques, features space-age ceramic tile abrasion linings and replaceable high impact wear elements made from chromium carbide overlays, to reduce maintenance and increase wear life.
Chute Technology Partner Mr Tom Woods says the first examples of the new materials handling technology are already being manufactured for use in a major Hunter Valley mine. The client there sought a long-term solution to clogging, high wear and production interruptions occurring as old chutes were removed, and new ones installed under its rotary breaker and main scalping screens.
"Some of the old materials handling technology used at different mines has been wearing out in months instead of years as they mine through wet and rocky material. The chutes' constant failure and replacement is disrupting production continually in a number of locations, which require a long-term solution to the problems resulting from high material impacts and high abrasion factors within their production chain."
Using DEM technologies proven in coal and ore applications throughout Australia, Chute Technology was able to model and translate into reality an optimum configuration that minimises impact and abrasion zones and smooths the flow of material. The new design eliminates some common impact and abrasion zones, while placing additional impact and wear protection in other zones most subjected to maintenance issues.
Ceramic tiles are used in areas most exposed to abrasion, using the same extremely hard and thermal shock-resistant material employed by NASA on spacecraft and increasingly in high performance commercial and military aircraft.
High-strength chromium carbide steels, meanwhile, are used in areas most affected by impact. To further reinforce the new materials handling technologies' low-maintenance credentials, the chutes and bins' entire bodies are manufactured from 3CR12 corrosion resistant metal for long life.
"The end result of the new smooth flowing designs and the strategically placed impact and wear materials is a product that is engineered for virtually no blockages and no maintenance for extended periods of years, in many cases in excess of the life of the mines in which they are located," says Mr Woods. "The additional cost of the long-life technology is more than offset by the gains in production and improvements in safety resulting from the curtailment of labour-intensive blockages and infrastructure replacement."
The new materials handling technologies are not only applicable to wet and sticky coal and ores, but also to other materials handling inputs prone to create wear and expensive blockages and maintenance, with attendant production costs and OH&S risks and costs.
The technology's design fundamentals have been already proven in practice with DEM analysis techniques applied to both mine and coal loading facilities, while the wear and impact materials are premium products that have also demonstrated their qualities in the toughest applications.
The Chute Technology engineering group targets problems common to many coal and ore plants and loading systems by addressing them with a three-pronged combination of problem insight and solution skills sets. This approach - which can typically halve or better the time involved in getting a mine back to its full potential - includes:
- Advanced engineering analysis of flow upscaleable 3D Discrete Element Method (DEM) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) design processes by Chute Technology Partner Dennis Pomfret Engineering, whose experience includes major ore and coal projects in Australia and internationally
- Followed by Design Engineer Gary Telford of Telford Engineering Solutions, which contributes extensive design engineering, detail drafting and project management experience
- And finally, custom manufacturing to individual plant needs by T.W. Woods Construction, which provides services to local and global companies including port coal loaders, Delta Electricity, Incitec Pivot, water and waste water authorities, Glencore, Centennial Coal and surface and other mining companies.TW Woods' services include specialised shaping, fabrication and welding technology for metals including carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminium.
Chute Technology's three proven skill sets are vital to solving typical mineral processing issues," says Mr Woods. These issues include reducing wear, removing bottlenecks caused by clogging, minimising damaging impacts on belts and optimising operational safety and efficiency by curbing breakdowns and cleanups. Chute Technology also offers full structural audits of surface conveyor and materials handling systems.
Chute Technology's combined capabilities - which are applicable to new and existing projects - are complemented by the practical experience of each of the three Principal Partners in Chute Technology, who have combined experience of more than 80 years in a wide variety of resource industries including coal, iron ore, alumina and limestone across Australia, the USA, South America and South Africa. The technologies are also applicable to gold, nickel and other bulk minerals and ores.