Engineering & Mining Journal

DEC 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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Page 59 of 115

STOCKPILE MANAGEMENT 58 E&MJ • DECEMBER 2018 In tradition-driven industries like min- ing, deep-rooted habits and customs die hard. Pre-digital-world miners might have mistakenly equated task familiarity with productivity, while managers could lean heavily on institutional memory to plan projects and budgets. But things change: Big Data is driving the industry down a path in which old policies and practic- es are regarded with suspicion and new sources of information shine bright lights into the dim corners of conventional min- ing business intelligence. In the process, one of the most mundane links in the mining chain, stockpile management, is being polished by technological tools to a higher level of operational luster. Stockpiles fulfill a number of functions ranging from alleviating feed-flow inter- ruptions at process plants, to blending of various ore types or storage of low-grade or problematic ore for future disposition. At one end of the application spectrum, ex- isting stockpiles at defunct mines are pro- cessed to provide an early source of income for new mine exploration and development, while at the other end, shipping-terminal stockpiles represent a near-final step in the quality-control chain before mineral prod- ucts are delivered to the customer. In line with an industry-wide interest in maximizing asset utilization, producers are taking a closer look at how stockpile man- agement can improve key metrics such as plant utilization versus plant availability ratios. They are refining their stockpile strategy, taking advantage of equipment and control-system advances to refresh stockyard infrastructure, and, through im- proved material flow and quality control, reinforce their capability to maintain mar- ket share of their products. High on the list of upgrade objectives are automation of all or part of stockpile operations, replace- ment of aged stacker-reclaimer setups with new-generation models, and quicker, more accurate stockpile accounting. Some mines with particular processing require- ments have adopted or are in the process of evaluating bulk ore-sorting technolo- gy to pre-concentrate low-grade ore from stockpiles, upgrading it to a level that makes economic sense for milling. A sample of recent industry announce- ments underscores the degree of interest in stockyard upgrades. In Western Aus- tralia, Rio Tinto Iron Ore is moving ahead on a $39 million project to replace stack- ers at its Paraburdoo mine. The existing stackers were part of the mine's original infrastructure, loading the very first ship- ment of iron ore from the mine in 1972. In 46 years of operation, they have stacked more than 800 million tons of ore. TAKRAF is leading the design and implementation phases of the stacker re- placement. The company's office in Perth is managing the project, with support from its office in Brisbane and global competence centers. The company said design of the new equipment is under way and fabrication is scheduled to begin later this year, with installation and com- missioning finished in early 2020. The new stackers feature state-of-the- art engineering design and mechanical technology, the latest generation of vari- able-speed drive control and fiber optic networking, an advanced anti-collision system with GPS backup, and automated operation monitored from the Rio Tinto Operations Center in Perth. In a similar project, thyssenkrupp just announced it is supplying large-scale stockyard machines for BHP's South Flank iron ore project in the central Pil- bara region of Western Australia. The contract is valued at approximately $170 million, making it one of the largest fabri- cation and construction projects the com- pany has conducted in Western Australia. The South Flank project is targeting first ore extraction in 2021. Generating roughly 80 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of output, it will replace production from the Yandi mine, which is reaching the end of its economic life. Thyssenkrupp will pro- vide two stockyard stackers and a reclaimer for loading ore trains bound for Port Hed- land. The machines will have a capacity of 20,000 mt/h, making them the largest rail-mounted stackers and reclaimer in the world, according to the company, which also noted they comply with the latest Aus- tralian design-standard requirements and include technology improvements centered on safe construction, operation and main- tenance activities. Staying on Top of Stockpile Management Smarter, quicker solutions emerge for measuring and controlling stockpile size and quality By Russell A. Carter, Contributing Editor As part of a contract valued at $170 million, thyssenkrupp will build and install two stockpile stackers and a reclaimer for BHP's South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia. Shown here are similar machines at work in BHP's Mining Area C. (Photo: thyssenkrupp)

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