Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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LOADING TECHNIQUES 46 E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 www.e-mj.com As the mining industry continues its climb out of this latest depression, open- pit mining organizations are striving to im- prove productivity wherever possible. One area that has large potential optimization gains is in the excavation load cycle, as inefficient truck spotting while loading and dumping can significantly impact a mine's productivity. While this challenge has gone largely unresolved historically, new and emerging operator-assist tech- nologies may finally provide the solution that mine operators need to improve pro- ductivity while loading and dumping. Importance of Load Cycle The load cycle plays a critical role in the production process of an open-pit mine, and can dramatically influence a mine's overall profitability, making it a key target for optimization. Since loading units can directly influence the utilization of haul trucks, optimizing a mine's excavation load cycle also optimizes its high-cost equipment and minimizes total truck wait time at the shovel by maximizing material movement, increasing truck utilization, and decreasing the required fleet size for a given target production. Challenges With Load Cycle Optimization An ideal load cycle is one that minimizes shovel hang time, optimizes shovel swing angle, maximizes trucking capacity, and allows for greater compliance to plan. But accomplishing this ideal load cycle is not an easy task, as the efficiency and safe- ty of haul truck maneuvering at shovels, crushers, and dumps varies dramatically with operator skill. Increasing employ- ee turnover and the lack of available and recruitable skilled operators further complicates the variability of operator ca- pability across a mine site. As a result, mines often employ standard operating procedures geared toward the lowest level of capability to ensure a safer production. Traditional practices such as bucket spot- ting and single-side loading can reduce the risk of truck-shovel impacts, but at the cost of productivity, as the resulting increase in shovel hang time reduces the productivity of both shovels and trucks. Additional challenges that haul truck drivers often face in truck-shovel interac- tions include the difficulty of determining the correct approach to radial equipment, working in a highly distracting and very dynamic shovel area, and a lacking un- derstanding of the shovel operator's pref- erences (i.e., desired spot side, location and heading). Load cycle optimization is further com- plicated by siloed approaches by oper- ations, engineering, safety, and training departments within an organization, who often focus only on specific portions of the load cycle, rather than the cycle as a whole. New Operator-assist Technologies Operator-assist technologies can help the load-cycle optimization effort by potentially equalizing the performance of all operators to a capability close to (or even beyond) that of the most experienced operator. An operator assist system that approaches op- timization holistically by considering the load cycle as a whole will provide the afore- mentioned benefits while also accounting Guided Spotting A new open-pit loading technology to improve excavation load cycles By Greg Lanz The ProVision Guided Spotting system facilitates dual-sided loading to help mines increase their truck-shovel productivity.

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