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9 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Mining Equipment Supplier

The mining industry in Australia is a major contributor to the country’s GDP. The country is now one of the world’s major exporters of alumina, iron ore, coal, and a variety of other resources. In fact, the mining industry in Australia accounts for over 75% of the country’s total exports.

Learning about the practicality of your mining equipment, its long-term performance, and how to minimise machine downtime may not only assist you in running your business more efficiently but may also assist in avoiding unexpected and unnecessary expenditures. If you’re in charge of selecting a mining machinery supplier, the number of options available may appear overwhelming at first. 

To help you out, we have compiled a list of some of the most important questions to ask while finding the right mining equipment supplier.

  1. Is the company known for having a good reputation?

Firms with a strong favourable reputation tend to attract more clients. You want to choose a company that has been in the industry for a long time and has earned a reputation for being trustworthy. This way, you can expect to work with the company for years to come. 

  1. Is the company certified? 

Rather than discovering later that your equipment may not be up to standard, it is advisable to double-check that your manufacturer has the necessary certifications and adheres to standards. To be used in underground coal and gassy subterranean metal mines, some mining materials must first be approved or certified by the government. The evaluation and testing of everything from little electrical gadgets to massive mining systems have taken place. 

  1. Is the equipment reliable?

It is worth noting that mining equipment is a little different from other types of machinery because it depends on the type of mining in which it is employed. For example, when it comes to heavy-duty machinery such as a mining dump truck, the construction and mining site will not function properly if the vehicle needs repairs consistently.

Statistics show that maintenance costs in the mining industry can account for anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent of total operating expenditures, depending on the kind and age of the mine in question. The more reliable your equipment, the less likely it is that you will have to fix or replace it on a regular basis, saving you both time and money.

  1. Does the company employ quality control? 

Maintaining all durable equipment in storage regularly and ensuring that the supplier performs regular maintenance inspections will prevent equipment failure during voting operations. It is also highly recommended that they have proper maintenance and testing plans for all durable equipment and that reports on results are brought to the attention of top officials from the electoral management body. Testing every piece of equipment before it is supplied to voting locations will also help to prevent the provision of ineffective equipment.  

engineers on construction site

  1. Will the equipment increase efficiency? 

Efficiency refers to the performance of activities with the least amount of resource waste. It also refers to the optimum utilisation of resources for the organisation to optimise its profit margins. Generally speaking, the more efficient a piece of equipment is, the greater its impact on decreasing operational time. In the mining industry, you should acquire equipment that will help ensure that everything is consistently functioning at peak performance levels.

  1. Can the equipment work in your specific mining location?

Rather than attempting to adapt something, you should look for materials tailored to your specific topography and climate. In particular, you should consider the topography of your extraction, processing, or final product removal processes. Whenever there is an incline or a decline, you will require conveyor belts and vibratory feeders capable of withstanding greater friction while maintaining a steady speed.

  1. Does the equipment help address your wants and needs? 

It is critical to determine what equipment you require before beginning your search for service providers. Mining activities make use of sophisticated machinery. Although there are highly qualified professionals on-site, organisations do not always choose the most appropriate equipment for their particular operations.

It is necessary to note that each type of mining equipment is associated with a particular set of mining activities. When it comes to mining equipment, the most frequent types vary depending on whether the operation is done above or below ground and whether the material being mined is gold, metal, coal, or crude oil, among other things. From drilling machines to excavators and crushing and grinding equipment, there is something for everyone.

  1. Is the equipment durable? 

In the mining business, there are a number of processes that can be problematic, especially if the activities are exposed to severe surroundings or weather conditions. As a result of these circumstances, numerous mining businesses are forced to spend a significant amount of time researching ways to reduce the costs of repairs and maintenance of mining equipment without compromising performance and reliability. One method of accomplishing this is to purchase long-lasting equipment. Not only that, but you should also think about whether the system will be able to adapt in the future. 

  1. Will the equipment be hired or bought? 

It’s a good rule of thumb to consider renting equipment if you don’t use it more than 60 to 70% of the time. Generally speaking, this will keep your expenditure low because you will not require more capital to manage and maintain it adequately. Meanwhile, you will be better off purchasing the item if you want to use it for a long time.

A Brief Mining Equipment Purchase Guide

Mining is undeniably one of the riskiest and most dangerous jobs in the world. Miners have to deal with a lot of hazards, such as toxic gas and falling debris. Not only that, but they must face the fear of being crushed or wounded every time they enter the workplace. Considering all this, the proper and adequate materials and equipment must be accessible to people in the mining industry.

Always assess and measure the mining site before purchase.

The mining equipment you will purchase is determined by the environment and the kind of material mined. Moreover, it is crucial to first evaluate the work location to give you an idea of how much space you will have to occupy. This will help you purchase tools that are appropriately sized, equipped, and ready for installation. 

Considering that most mining sites are bumpy and elevated, you should also take the angles into account. Materials must frequently navigate a sequence of inclines or declines. Thus, conveyor belts and vibrating feeders are essential in these scenarios to help streamline the mining operation.

It is also beneficial to estimate the distance between the mining site and the access roads to help you install motor graders. Motor graders are used for surface operations such as creating and maintaining roads around mines. They ensure that roads have proper grading and drainage.

Find the best suppliers. 

To obtain the best equipment, you must partner with a reputable mining equipment manufacturer. For this purpose, you should take the time to browse the Internet for specialised mining equipment companies.

You can look for online reviews to give you an idea of what to expect from the different mining manufacturers. You can also seek advice from other professionals who have been in the mining industry for exclusive insights.

Find the right safety features. 

Now that we have established how dangerous this job is, safety is a top priority with these types of equipment. Your preferred manufacturers are responsible for selling you safe equipment, but you are responsible for ensuring that your personnel observe safety guidelines. You should think about emergency systems that will help you and your staff to evacuate or deal with unforeseen incidents. Furthermore, consider equipment with safety features such as emergency shut offs or blockage sensors. These features will keep your miners safe in the case of an unanticipated accident.

It would help if you also looked for tools and machinery that will help you lower harmful toxins and dust. One good method to reduce your risk of harm is to carefully follow manufacturer rules and report any hazards to an occupational health and safety official.

Look for more efficient machinery and equipment.

Like in every workplace, efficiency is one of the best ways to elevate performance and productivity. Due to the apparent scope and complexity of their operations, mining companies have generally been slower to adopt new technologies. However, new equipment has emerged to improve efficiency in this industry.

Prioritise equipment that will allow you to create higher yields while incurring fewer operational costs. You should also inquire about the manufacturer’s energy per revolution, effects per minute, and extraction duration. Feeders and conveyor belts, for example, are required for transporting and controlling material flow within a mining operation. Not only can they make processes more efficient, but improved feeders and higher-quality conveyor belt systems can boost processing rates and yields.

Make sure that the equipment fits the location. 

Equipment comes in various shapes and sizes to fit into different spaces. When shopping for your mining supplies, make sure that you have the measurements of the area. This will help you maximise your workplace and also increase performance.

Find reliable tools. 

The mining industry comes complete with the right tools, from large dozers to crushing and grinding equipment. However, it is not enough that you have the complete devices. If you want to carry out safe operations, you must choose the most reliable equipment and machinery. 

As the complexity and cost of equipment used in mines are increasing rapidly, mining equipment reliability is becoming an important issue. The reliability of equipment is determined by the amount of time it operates without failure. Therefore, it will be beneficial for you to know as many details and features about the equipment you plan to purchase. Seeking help from mining equipment specialists will also serve a good purpose. 

You can choose from buying or leasing materials. 

Purchasing mining equipment requires a significant investment, especially since equipment and operational costs are always rising. There are three options for financing the acquisition of equipment: purchase, hire purchase, or lease.

If your equipment only lasts one or two years or if you continuously need to upgrade it, you might wish to lease it. However, if it lasts 10 or 12 years and requires little maintenance, purchasing may be preferable. 

Check the humidity and moisture of the mining site. 

Heavy-duty, weather-resistant equipment is required to extract, transport, and process minerals from the soil, sand, and rock. Moisture measurement is critical in the mineral sector throughout the mineral processing process. Mining minerals, metals, and gold from various surfaces may expose your equipment to excessive dampness. Also, underground mines are being operated at great depths. Numerous heat sources cause the temperature and humidity of the air to rise as it travels. 

Due to this, mining businesses are continually regulating moisture levels to maintain product quality. Furthermore, the appropriate mining equipment should be obtained to handle various degrees of moisture.

How The Summit And Incentives Have Helped WA Prioritise Skilled Workers?

Premier Mark McGowan’s Skills Summit was initially set for June 30. However, it has been postponed due to COVID-19.

The summit provides a chance for representatives from a variety of businesses to meet with the State Government to address the state’s skills and labour market requirements. Moreover, the National Skills Summit aims to bring together leaders from the corporate community and the training sector to build a shared understanding of what it takes to thrive in the skills sector.

In addition to that, representatives at the summit will have the chance to propose collaborative and creative ideas to address the skills demands of the WA workforce and keep the state competitive worldwide.

The Aim of the Skill Summit

Every company needs a well-skilled crew. Nowadays, many sectors are becoming increasingly competitive, and significant changes are taking place on a regular basis. Having access to well-trained, adaptable, and knowledgeable employees guarantees that you can sustain high levels of performance no matter what your industry’s present difficulties are.

The ultimate aim of the most recent summit is to address and provide solutions to the skill needs across all sectors. Furthermore, the summit’s goal is to hear from some of Western Australia’s industry leaders on what more can be done jointly and quickly to address existing skills requirements. This is to ensure that the WA workforce can continue to progress the state and maintain global competitiveness.

How the Western Australian Government Invests In Skills Development?

The WA State Government has previously made significant investments in training, including lowering TAFE fees to make reskilling more accessible. Also, the government is now constructing the largest TAFE infrastructure project in the state’s history.

TAFE is an abbreviation that is short for Technical and Further Education. Moreover, this organisation, situated in New South Wales, is Australia’s biggest vocational education and training institution. TAFE offers a wide selection of courses and credentials to accommodate everyone from high school graduates to career changers and companies. To add to that, they also provide certificates, diplomas, and advanced diplomas in addition to the courses and short courses.

Furthermore, it was also established that businesses that recruit a mature-age apprentice might get up to $26,800 in funding from a $5.2 million Adult Apprentice Employer Incentive (AAEI). This would help to expand WA’s skilled workforce and provide possibilities for older apprentices, who are sometimes ignored by businesses due to the greater cost of adult salaries.

Adult apprentices, also known as mature age apprentices, are those who start their apprenticeship when they are 21 years old or older. They are recognised for their excellent work ethic, maturity, dependability, and transferable skills, and valuable experience. In addition to that, they are also applauded for their understanding of the value of working as part of a team.

Since the initiative began in July 2020, more than 1,600 apprentices and trainees have been re-engaged and permitted to complete their course.

The Apprenticeship and Traineeship Re-engagement Incentive has also been extended for another year, bringing the total amount invested in upskilling and reskilling the workforce in the state to $4 million.

The State Nominated Migration Program (SNMP) in Western Australia has also been broadened to provide a pathway for temporary visa holders currently in the country to fill openings left unfilled by local employees. Furthermore, it has been stated that international students studying in Western Australia will soon have easier access to the State Nomination Migration Program (SNMP) Graduate stream.

As a result, when competent local employees are not available to fill positions, this will give businesses rapid access to skilled labour. A total of 134 jobs from high-demand industries have been added to the WA Skilled Migration Occupation List.

McGowan weighed in on the measures, stating that the state’s economy deserved it. According to him, “The WA economy is booming. This resilience amid a once-in-a-century pandemic is indicative of the underlying strength of our economy and the importance of our continued positive collaboration with the business sector.”

New partnerships to develop the tourist and hospitality workforce are among the other urgent steps to support Western Australian firms. Interactive demos will be held at the Skills West Careers Expo, as well as a ‘chef ambassador’ program aimed at students and instructors wanting to improve their skills.

To add to that, it was also announced that rents for public sector housing in regional WA have also been fixed, ensuring staff retention. This will make it easier for regional communities to recruit and retain public-sector personnel like cops and teachers. Not only that, but this also serves based on industry training councils, peak organisations, industry groups, WA unions, and government agencies.

The Outcome of the Boost in Apprenticeship Commencements

Until September 30, 2021, the federal government has extended the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements initiative, which provides a 50 per cent wage subsidy to businesses that employ or rehire apprentices.

The news came as the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) revealed a 141.5 per cent increase in apprenticeship and trainee start-ups in Australia in the December quarter of 2020 compared to the December quarter of 2019.

Such a level has not been witnessed in five years, and the Australian Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements has played a massive role in this positive result.

Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, praised the program extension and its support for the resources industry.

Nearly 40,000 firms from various industries are expected to participate in the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements initiative, which aims to develop the next generation of competent workers.

In numbers: how mining became Australia’s most profitable sector

Mining remains Australia’s largest sector and a stronghold of stability and profitability within the uncertain times of the Covid-19 pandemic. We look at the statistics behind the industry’s recent meteoric rise to see how it has landed such a position of dominance and stability.

Mining remains the top dog within the Australian economy. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows the sector was accountable for more than one-tenth of the economy between 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, resources and energy exports reached an astonishing $221.2bn in value within the same period, establishing Australian mining as an immense component of both its domestic and international economies.

This growth has brought with it numerous benefits, from mining providing some of the most stable jobs in Australia, to the fact that technological advancements are often proven in mines and refineries. Equally, questions remain about the sector’s long-term financial and environmental capability, with mining emissions continuing to spiral at home and coal demand drying up overseas. 

Despite these challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has not impacted Australian mining. The sector is so established even a year-long pandemic has struggled to dislodge it from the heart of Australia.

Below we look at the statistics to see what made Australian mining what it is today.

Mining is Australia’s single largest sector

Mining remains Australia’s largest sector, with the ABS reporting that the industry was accountable for 10.4% of national GDP between 2019 and 2020. Much of this related to the resiliency of the mining sector amid the pandemic; mining’s isolated working environments were less affected by lockdown measures for example. 

Additionally, expansive exploration work before the pandemic highlighted numerous new mineral deposits, including the Beta Hunt gold mine in Western Australia, which profited around $11.5m in value within four days. This has helped to guarantee confidence in the long-term finances of the sector.

Mining remains positive for the Australian economy

This financial performance led to mining dedicating 0.1% of Australia’s GDP in 2020 and was one of only four sectors to record a positive contribution. Much of this contribution was determined by the fact that Australia’s mines kept producing, while other sectors struggled. 

Between June 2019 and June 2020, the total outlay of Australia’s mining industry increased by 1.1%. This is compared to, for example, a 10.3% fall in construction output and a 43.4% decline in the accommodation and food services sector.

Australian exports continue to grow

Australian mining exports have grown both in quantity and value. China’s interest in iron ore, in particular, remains unaltered by the pandemic – it was the world’s biggest importer of iron ore, responsible for 68% of overseas pursuits within 2019 and 2020.

Within the pandemic, Australia became responsible for more than half of all iron ore exports, which is predicted to drive the value of iron ore exports from $77.8bn in 2019-20 to a massive $93.8bn in 2020-21.

Financial rules bending for mining

However, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has made some investors reluctant. Yet many financial rules are being shifted to protect investment, particularly from foreign backers. 

For example, the government announced in March 2020 that all foreign mining investments would need government approval to go ahead, Yet the timeline was expanded dramatically to review applications from 30 days to six months, making large-scale investments more feasible. This led to a 3.9% increase in investments in machinery in Queensland due to, according to the government, “expanded mining investment”.

Mining remains a cornerstone for Australian employment

Mining resilience means that the total number of Australians employed in the sector has actually increased. Government figures show the number of Australians employed in mining increased by 21.4% in the five years to 2020, to a total of 261,900. The government predicts this figure will increase by 6.2% over the next three years.

Technological innovation continues to advance mining

Australian mining has received notable support from a number of scientific organisations. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has backed a number of projects, such as a $4.6m laboratory to evolve 3D printing.

This shows the industry is so profitable that it receives fundamental attention from the scientific community, leading to further advancements within the industry.

Coal may struggle long-term

Despite the positive attributes of Australian mining, the mineral fuels sector dipped in 2020. There was a 0.7% decrease in both coal mining and oil and gas output, leading to declines of 8.3% and 1.7% in the exports of coal and other mineral fuels respectively.

A lot relates to a turn away from fossil fuels, that began before the pandemic and is likely to continue after but has not been helped by controversies such as the ongoing protests against the Bravus Carmichael coal mine within Australia.

Environmental challenges remain

In addition to the economic concerns facing coal and other fossil fuels, there is a clear environmental cost to Australia’s significant investment in these forms of power. A report from Climate Analytics showed Australia was responsible for just 1.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, yet this figure jumped to 5% if considering Australian exports with domestic usage. 

Indeed, Australia is one of the most significant emitters on a per capita basis. Granted that much of the Australian economy is tied up in such emission-heavy industries, untangling the financial perks from the environmental damage remains a key mission for this country.

Understanding the Basics of Placer Mining Equipment

Placer mining is the process of recovering heavily eroded minerals (gold and other precious metals) from gravel or sand. Examples of deposits recovered through placer mining are the gold-bearing sands and gravel that settle out from rapidly moving rivers and streams.

 Placer mining makes use of gold’s high density which causes the metal sink to sink quickly from moving water compared to lighter siliceous materials.

While the basic principles of placer mining haven’t changed since earlier times, the methods have improved considerably thanks to the use of modern mining equipment. Today, miners use a variety of equipment in their placer mining operations such as excavators, water pumps, and generators. Specific equipment used to recover gold and other precious metals includes gold wash plants, trommels, derockers, and sluice boxes.

Let’s discuss the basics of placer mining equipment so you can have a better understanding of how these machines work to acquire gold.

The four most commonly used equipment in placer mining

Placer mining equipment is designed to be durable and efficient when working in harsh environments. This gives miners the best chance to obtain gold and other precious metals from their operations. Let’s break down the four most commonly used placer mining equipment today.

  1. Gold Wash Plants

Gold wash plants come in many different options depending on the user’s mining needs such as gold placer plants, mining wash plants, and full production gold trommels, all of which are used for gold mining. These also include testing plants (aka portable trommel wash plants) coming from top global brands like MSI Wash Plants. Miners also have a choice between diesel-powered or gas-powered gold trommel wash plants to fit their specific needs and requirements.


Placer Mining Equipment

  1. Derockers

Derockers are perfect for alluvial mining of gold and other precious metals in places where large boulders exist. Derockers, such as the RMS-Ross Derocker, offer a -5cm product to downstream recovery, and releases clean washed +5cm” rock and boulder separately. To further optimise placer mining operation, miners choose automatic dockers that are capable of self-cleaning, thus making the equipment more efficient.

  1. Sluice Boxes

Sluice boxes play an important role in any placer mining operations. Its basic design has stood for hundreds of years yet remains an effective way to recover gold from rivers and streams. Sluice boxes are also used to recover other precious metals and stones. Such equipment is mostly used in gold mining paydirt and sluicing creek beds where gold is aplenty. Gold dredge sluice boxes are also designed in various sizes depending on the user’s request and the amount of material they need to process.

  1. Trommels

Trommels (also known as rotary screens) allow miners to recover gold by filtering out large materials like rocks and boulders. Trommels come in many different sizes, with the most common ones being 45cm, 76cm, 121cm, and 2.1m. Most miners buy new gold trommels but it’s becoming increasingly common to purchase used placer mining equipment with refurbished parts to cut down on costs.

Companies like Savona Equipment are known for making excellent gold trommels and produce many different varieties of gold recovery equipment worldwide including gold trommel wash plants, mini wash plants, and portable gold trommels. Being such a big company has plenty of advantages as miners can order a custom made gold recovery wash plant to fit their specific needs and requirements.

How gold is extracted

The question now is, how does placer mining equipment work to separate gold from the sediment? Let’s discuss how each piece of equipment plays a role in placer mining operations.

Think of a trommel like a large, rotating sand screen. It’s set at an incline with lifter bars placed inside the tube. The process begins with feeding the materials into the upper end of the equipment. The pressurised water is then fed into the apparatus which combines flowing water and mechanical agitation to free gold from the bits of ore. The ore that passes through the trommel is further refined using a sluice box.

A sluice box uses the power of flowing water to collect gold. A typical sluice box measures around 3m long, 0.5 m wide and 25 cm deep, with a series of ripple in the bottom to help agitate the flowing water, thus helping to extract gold and nuggets the process. When a stream of water passes through the sluice box, the lighter waste materials are spilled out to one end to separate the gold.

To extract as much gold as possible, placer miners add mercury to their sluice boxes. Gold and mercury bond chemically to form an amalgam, which makes extraction that much easier. After the amalgam has been collected, it is heated in a crucible, breaking the amalgam and turning mercury into vapour. The gold can now be liquefied to remove any impurities.

Cold Bonding vs. Hot Vulcanising: What’s the Difference?

Rubber pulley lagging is the process of bonding a layer of rubber to the conveyor pulley’s shell. Currently, there are two main rubber lagging techniques used today and these are cold bonding and hot vulcanising.

Each method has its pros and cons which we’ll discuss in this article. We’ll go over what’s involved in each process to help you determine the best rubber lagging method for your applications.

Cold bonding

Cold bonding is the process of gluing strips of rubber lagging straight onto the steel pulley. This technique has been used for many years due to its convenience and cost-efficiency. Cold bonding is less involved compared to hot vulcanising and can be performed on-site when sudden lagging problems arise.

If done properly, cold bonding can provide satisfactory results for light to medium pulley applications. However, cold bonding doesn’t offer 100% rubber tear adhesion which means service life is somewhat reduced.

Advantages of cold bonding

One of the main benefits of cold bonding is low application cost. Thanks to a simplified gluing process, cold bonding is easier to perform which helps keep the costs down and ensures shorter lead times compared to hot vulcanising.

Another key benefit of cold bonding is that you can perform emergency lagging repairs without having to remove the pulley from the conveyor. Convenience and affordability are what makes cold bonding ideal for simple rubber pulley lagging.

Disadvantages of cold bonding

The downside to cold bonding is that there are many different modes of failure that can potentially occur. One example is the gaps between the rubber strips. Over time, the glue and filler used to bond the rubber strips can wear away, thus creating gaps where water can penetrate the lagging. This can result in pulley shell corrosion which significantly affects the pulley’s performance.

When they pulley shell corrodes, the rubber lagging can potentially lift off from the pulley shell. The shell itself will need to be machined to remove the corrosion which will result in a thinner pulley shell.

It’s for these reasons that cold bonding is best reserved for light to medium applications since the average service life is much shorter compared to hot vulcanising.


Pros of cold bonding:

  • Low application costs
  • Convenient and straightforward
  • Great for emergency repairs
  • Shorter lead times

Cons of cold bonding:

  • Short service life
  • More potential for failure
  • Potential for pulley shell corrosion

Hot vulcanising

Hot vulcanising is generally considered to be the superior rubber lagging technique and for good reason. Because the process eliminates any gaps in the lagging, hot vulcanising offers fewer modes of failure. This provides better overall performance and service life compared to the conventional cold bonding method.

Advantages of hot vulcanising

One advantage of hot vulcanising is that the bond strength between the rubber and pulley shell is stronger compared to cold bonding. In addition to that, hot vulcanising does not create joins in the lagging which eliminates the risks of shell corrosion and prevents the rubber from separating from the pulley.

A process for installing ceramic lagging using hot vulcanising has been developed. This addresses any issues with lagging to shell bonding, resulting in a stronger and more reliable adhesion not only between the lagging and the pulley but also between the individual lagging strips. Hot vulcanising ensures a 100% rubber tear bond between the lagging and the pulley shell.

Disadvantages of hot vulcanising

While hot vulcanising is the preferred method for rubber lagging, it does come with its disadvantages. One is that the process takes longer to finish. Hot vulcanising is done by applying a continuous rubber layer around the pulley shell which is then cured and melted to create a seamless rubber lagging. This can take hours to finish which leads to longer lead times.

Hot vulcanising also requires special equipment and cannot be performed on-site, thus making it unsuitable for emergency repairs. It’s also more expensive to perform compared to cold bonding.


Pros of hot vulcanising:

  • Better for performance and service life
  • Prevents rubber from separating from the pulley
  • Stronger bond adhesion
  • Eliminates gaps in the rubber lagging

Cons of hot vulcanising:

  • Longer lead times
  • More expensive to perform
  • Requires special equipment

Choosing the right rubber lagging method

There’s a time and place for both rubber lagging methods. Cold vulcanising is still very much used today especially for those who want a quick solution that’s easy and affordable. Hot vulcanising, on the other hand, is ideal for maximising conveyor pulley performance while ensuring a repair-free application.

Make sure to consider the pros and cons of each rubber lagging method to determine the best technique to use for your conveyor pulley.

Mining Cycle Explained

The Four Primary Methods of Mining

Mining is the process used to extract valuable resources from the Earth. It is done to acquire any resource that cannot be grown or fabricated through artificial means. More specifically, mining is used to extract non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, minerals and even water.

There are four main methods of mining: underground, surface, placer and in-situ. The type of mining method used depends on the kind of resource that is being targeted for extraction, the deposit’s location below or on the Earth’s surface and the capacity of each method to profitably extract the resource. Each mining method also has varying degrees of safety and impacts on the surrounding environment, both of which are concerns for legitimate mining operations.

Each of the four mining methods is explained below.

Underground Mining

Relatively costly and frequently used to get to deeper deposits, underground mining involves digging down into the earth and creating tunnels and shafts that reach the deposits of resources. Ore and other resources can then be brought up to the surface for processing, while waste rock can be removed for disposal.

There are various types of underground mining that are categorized based on the kind of shafts used, the technique of extraction and the process used to get to a deposit. For instance, drift mining involves the use of horizontal tunnels, while slope mining uses diagonal shafts to access deposits.

The type of underground mining technique used is typically based on the geology of the area, especially the amount of ground support needed to make mining safe.

Primary Methods of Mining

Surface Mining

Surface mining involves removal of plant life, soil and potentially bedrock to be able to access resource deposits. It is normally used for fairly shallow, non-precious deposits. The two foremost kinds of surface mining are open-pit mining and strip mining.

Open-pit mining involves digging out rocks to form an open pit or borrow pit, from which resources are then extracted. An open-pit mine generally has stepped sides to minimize the risks associated with collapse and a large ramp for mining equipment. Some kind of water management system is generally necessary to keep an active mine from turning into a lake. Open-pit mines are typically worked until either the mineral deposit is depleted, or various factors make the mine non-profitable. When this occurs, the open pit is often modified to become a landfill for solid wastes.

Strip mining is mostly used to extract shallow, “bedded” deposits, where a mineral layer is covered by a layer of soft topsoil and weathered rocks. The relatively soft top layer of earth is stripped by either a dragline or industrial shovel to uncover a deposit.

Placer Mining

Normally formed by weathering via water and/or wind action, placers are unconsolidated deposits of resources. Placer mining is generally done in riverbeds, sands or other sedimentary environments and involves sifting valuable materials from sediments. Famously, “panning for gold” can be part of the placer mining process. In placer operations, the extracted sedimentary material is rinsed and sluiced to pull out the desired minerals.

In addition to gold, gemstones, platinum, tin and other materials can be extracted via place mining. At least 50 per cent the world’s titanium comes from this type of mining operation.

In-Situ Mining

Also referred to as solution mining, in-situ mining does not involve removing intact ore from beneath the earth’s surface. Instead, it involves pumping chemicals underground to dissolve resource-containing ore and then pumping what is known as the “pregnant solution” back up to the surface, where it can be processed to recover minerals. This technique is mainly used in uranium mining.

This technique causes very little disturbance to the surface and does not produce large amounts of waste rock. To use this technique, the ore body must be permeable to the extraction liquids, and it must be possible to complete the process without the significant risk of contaminating nearby groundwater.

How Intelligent Equipment is Changing the Mining Industry

The mining industry is a global sector in which every product used plays an important role. Efficiency is one of the main drivers of the industry since most productions rely on converting materials into different forms. With advancements in technology, mining equipment has come a long way in terms of speed, performance, and durability to help minimise downtime and encourage profitable operations.

The influence of artificial intelligence (AI) can now be found in the majority of the products and services used in mining. From enhanced cloud computing to improved machine-to-machine communications, the mining industry is moving towards a more intelligent approach in harvesting valuable resources.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how intelligent equipment is reshaping the mining industry and what are the benefits of AI in mining operations.

Conventional mining equipment is getting smarter

The equipment used for grinding, crushing, and mineral processing are becoming smarter by the day which helps yield incredible efficiency in terms of a production standpoint. With the increasing requirements for market demand and environmental protection, conventional mining equipment needs to learn how to adapt.

Take for example the mobile crushing station. After constant testing and operation, manufacturers are able to pair hydraulic driving with intelligent automatic driving. Without relying on human supervision, the mobile crushing station can drive safely over the predetermined route using sensors and GPS. The crushing station uses information gathered from these devices to communicate with the operations centre 

Sand-making equipment is also constantly being improved to meet stricter requirements on material size and environmental conservation. Modern sand making machines have a plastic function with less dust and lower noise during operation. This greatly improves the working efficiency and utilisation of available resources.

Driverless trucks are being developed at record speed

Australia is responsible for developing 60% of mining software across the globe, with its mining equipment & technology industries estimated to be worth 90 billion AUD ($67.6 billion dollars). With Rio Tinto actively introducing new advancements in automation, the Anglo-Australian mining company has deployed the world’s largest fleet of driverless trucks in the Pilbara iron ore belt. Rio Tinto has also used 1,700 km of tracks to connect four docks and ports together.

Rio Tinto also monitors, manages, and adjusts its system through their Perth operations centre whilst preparing for another 45 driverless trucks in a few years. The goal is to improve efficiency, employee safety, and productivity by deploying automated vehicles that are smarter and more reliable than ever before.

Speaking of the autonomous trucks, the vehicles are developed by Volvo in collaboration with Saab, a Swedish aerospace company that helps develop autonomous technology. The Volvo trucks look just like a regular truck, with a cabin that can fit a driver for manual operation. By utilising the sensors and GPS fitted to the truck, the automated vehicle can drive safely to the scheduled destination.

Industrial UAVs are gaining popularity

Ran Krauss, founder and CEO of Airobotics, says that they’ve been developing a drone behind the scenes that are packed with technological features and advancements. “We’ve been going invisible for the last few years because we don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it if the work isn’t done,” Krauss said.

Now that the Airobotics drone has been developed, the UAV operates on an independent base and can perform a variety of programmed tasks automatically such as checking on equipment, detecting security vulnerabilities, and guiding explorers towards new investigations. The drone is capable of analysing and collecting data before landing on the base station automatically.

Krauss says that Airobotics is the first company to introduce integrated driverless systems to industrial companies. By next quarter, Airobotics will open an office in Australia and target mining, gas, and oil companies. Such companies can utilise drones to check up on pipelines and fly high to inspect equipment failures without risking worker safety.

While some of the largest mining companies have introduced drones in the past, they are nowhere near as advanced and developed as the ones Airobotics has come up with. This is because the priority for these companies is to improve efficiency while cutting down on costs, two objectives that can hinder the development of hi-tech UAVs.

Operating costs are reduced

Mining companies are always looking for new ways to reduce costs without compromising on the quality of work. The Escondida mine is one of the world’s largest copper mines wherein BHP tested new sensors that can determine whether a rock that’s scooped up is valuable or not. BHP is also preparing to install automatic drill bits throughout Australia’s iron ore mines after finding out that it’s more productive than robotic mining and is more cost-effective in terms of maintenance.

Other mining companies have fitted their drones with zoom lenses and infrared sensors that send alert notifications when a group of people or equipment are gathered at the blast site in the Goonyella Riverside mine. Considering the mine is 22.5 kilometres long and 9.6 kilometres wide, using drones outfitted with sensors are more cost-efficient than sending a car or plane to gather information.

A Closer Look at the Biggest Maintenance Challenges in the Mining Industry

By nature, the mining industry is a highly complex sector. Its operations and processes are very intensive, risky, and subject to unpredictable weather conditions. It’s an industry that’s surviving on limited resources whether it be carbon-based fuels or precious stones. As to be expected with an exhaustible resource, product decline is inevitable, so much so that the mining sector is already coming to grips with this reality.

There’s another challenge that the mining industry is facing and that is maintenance. The workforce operates complex pieces of equipment that are no larger than a medium-sized building and utilise them under hostile environments. This combination makes mining maintenance quite challenging at best. The typical mine maintenance manager will have to face plenty of issues such as constant machine repairing, replacing aging equipment, managing reduced funds, and alleviating safety concerns.

Here 3 of the most pressing maintenance challenges the mining industry is currently facing and what can be done to address them by one of the industries leading mining equipment suppliers.

Mining Industry

Equipment maintenance

Mining equipment maintenance is so crucial, a single mining venture can take up anywhere from 35% to 50% of its annual operating budget. While it’s expected that mining equipment would have some form of preventative maintenance in place, equipment breakdown is still possible since the machines undergo constant stress and strain. When this happens, it can lead to serious downtime and affect productivity until it gets fixed.

The good news is that the mining industry is utilising technology and mining ventures to lessen the frequency of equipment breakdown. Many have started embedding physical sensors in the machines which are connected through the internet and provide critical analytics to monitor the equipment’s current state. This greatly improves the anticipation of equipment failures by providing alerts when a potential issue has been spotted.

Using such technology in equipment maintenance is undoubtedly better than the traditional schedule-based maintenance which can significantly reduce costs in the long run.

  1. Safety risks

Worker safety remains a glaring issue in the mining industry as working in mines pose inherent risks. Injuries and fatalities among miners continue to be an international concern a while worker safety has seen significant improvements over the years, fatalities brought about by equipment failure are still alarming.

To protect workers from harm, mine maintenance managers can explore the following strategies:

  • Provide regular training and re-training for machine operators and repairers. This is to help retain their familiarity with operating the equipment regardless of how much experience they have. This is comparable to the manufacturing industry where safety training takes precedence above other types of personnel training. Accidents can occur around mining machines when the operator assumes it’s a routine, thus leading to complacency. Workers should be trained to look out for warning signs like unusual noises, vibration, and heat when operating large and complicated machines like mining equipment.
  • Invest in smart mining safety wear. For example, when a technician is repairing a piece of equipment, they can wear smart goggles that provide step-by-step instructions on the on how to repair them. They can also wear smart clothing equipped with GPS that allows supervisors to track their exact location and transmit data regarding the technician’s physical condition and monitor changes in their surrounding environment.
  • Purchasing machines from reputable manufacturers. This ensures the equipment is built to last and can withstand the general wear and tear that mining machines are subjected to.
  • Mine decision-makers should consider exploring areas of artificial intelligence that can help automate many of the dangerous aspects of resource extraction. For instance, remote-controlled vehicles and drones can help eliminate the various instances of human error and reduce the number of accidents on the site.
  1. Cost control

One of the major challenges in the mining industry today is the declining availability of high-quality ore deposits. This results in the reduction of ore quality and forcing miners to go deeper beyond the surface. According to a report from the World Economic Forum in 2017, the average production cost of copper has increased by over 300% but the grade has decreased by 30% in the last 15 years.

With the deteriorating ore quality, mining companies are forced to contend with lowered productivity, commodity prices and, profits whilst paying heavy permits and taxes. With profits on the low, mine maintenance heads should lean into innovative methods to keep production running with limited budgets.

One way to approach this is by learning from other industries that have successfully adopted process automation without necessarily compromising safety and quality.  Modern manufacturing companies, for example, can offer a bit of insight in this regard. In addition, they could also explore other areas to minimize operational inefficiency whether it be through workforce management, energy consumption, or reusing mining materials and resources.

Despite the fact that mining comes with unique demands, the sector can still benefit tremendously from various technological advancements. Mine maintenance managers will need to make adjustments and face the challenges head-on to thrive in such a challenging industry. They need to embrace the change process and play an active role to maximise profits while keeping costs down. Only then will they be able to gain a competitive advantage and overcome the biggest mining maintenance issues that currently exist.