12/08/2011 | Author / Editor: Glen Davis, Ted Wagner / Marcel Dröttboom
Innovation in any industry takes place in a series of steps. This is particularly true in the mining industry. Mine site requirements and suppliers’ “what if” ideas spur the development of new products and technologies.
A prime example of how mine site requirements and suppliers ideas spur the development of innovations at FLSmidth is the development and evolution of the mobile stacking conveyor. In 1977 Pacific Power & Light, a Washington state utility, was seeking an alternative to the equipment being used for stockpiling coal at its power plant. The solution had to offer the operational efficiency of a conveyor and the advantages of a traditional rail-mounted stacker, yet retain some of the flexibility of a traditional truck haul operation. This request led to the development of the first Rahco Mobile Stacking Conveyor (MSC).
Mine operators and FLSmidth over time saw the operational, safety and even environmental advantages of the Rahco MSC in handling tailings material. As metallurgy and the heap leach process progressed, the mobile stacking conveyor became a standard for stacking the heap. In an evolutionary step, this led directly to the first reusable race track heap leach pad at the El Abra mine in Chile. The reusable pad employed two mobile conveyors – one for stacking and one for reclaiming – as well as a crawler-mounted bucketwheel reclaimer. Today, mobile bridge conveyors have become standard at many sites that handle large volumes of ore, ripios, or overburden material.
So what are the new ideas? What evolution is taking place in material handling equipment? Certainly, mobile crushing and conveying, whether in the pit or out, is one place, and FLSmidth is at the forefront of these advances.
In the 2005, an Australian mining company came to FLSmidth with the goal of minimizing, if not eliminating, the need for truck haulage in their greenfield mining operation. Three years later the company supplied a system with the first fully-mobile sizing station – the Rahco Triple Tracked Mobile Sizer, see Fig. 1. This was the first mobile sizer that was capable of moving when fully loaded.
Three FLSmidth technology and product companies (in the United States, Germany and Australia) took active parts in developing the Triple Tracked Mobile Sizer, an example of goups’s one source philosophy. The Triple Tracked Mobile Sizer was tailored specifically to handle overburden removal and waste stacking. Hydraulic shovels at the site remove overburden that is 10 to 30 metres deep, and load one of the triple tracked mobile sizer’s two integral hoppers. Apron feeders meter the flow of material to the sizer.
After the material size is reduced the overburden is discharged onto a series of mobile bridge conveyors to eventual placement by a Rahco Mobile Stacking Conveyor. The various machine interfaces are controlled through a programmable logic controller.
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