Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2019

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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IN-PIT CRUSHING JUNE 2019 • E&MJ 69 erations trade-off studies. However, the lack of flexibility in addition to the industry's conservatism has slowed down the adoption of IPCC in existing operations." Metso is currently installing and commissioning two pri- mary gyratory crushers as part of IPCC solutions, and has several mobile machines in gold and copper operations that will be commissioned this year, too. "There is for sure an increased interest in the technology," Lambert added. "However, mining companies like the flexibility of trucks. The main trend today is to crush closer to the pit and use trucks. In this case, a semi-mobile primary crusher is con- nected to the comminution plant through an overland conveyor. "On the other hand, we are delivering more and more crushing solutions for small projects encompassing ore sort- ing and IPCC." Two more trends that are accelerating the implementa- tion of IPCC systems in mines are digitalization and recruit- ment. A shortage of skilled labor, which is often exacerbated for mines in remote locations, makes it extremely difficult to entertain a large truck fleet. IPCC systems lend themselves well to automation, and fewer machines naturally require few- er operators. "Obviously a mine with reduced or completely eliminated truck traffic makes digitalization easier as there is much less equipment to be connected and managed," Jabs explained. "All elements of an IPCC system are perfectly adaptable to a digital approach, and this also solves a great part of the resource problem." While there is greater awareness today of IPCC options, and the benefits in efficiency and economy they can bring to mines, Heiertz believes more could be done to instruct stu- dents in this respect. The fact remains that most mining ed- ucational courses globally still base their syllabuses on truck and shovel operations. "For many decades, we have been supporting German and European universities in the education of their students in the field of continuous mining," he said. "In our mines, many students are taught how to operate continuous mining equip- ment in the most efficient way, mostly in the form of intern- ships or master's theses. "Back in 2015, we were asked by the University of Queensland to support them to build up a lecture chair for continuous mining. Our Australian office in Brisbane was supporting the university in Brisbane directly in the form of lectures. Students also came from Australia to Germany for several months to do internships in our mines, and be trained on continuous mining equipment and its planning approach." Shaking Off the Past IPCC-based solutions can trace their roots back to German lignite mines in the 1950s. These operations first conceived the idea of crushing material in the pit before removing it to the processing plant or stockpiles using a system of con- veyors, and continuous mining systems are still prevalent in these operations today. When the first commercial-scale systems were introduced in the 1970s/80s, there were a few unsuccessful projects. This was mainly due to incorrect setup and operation, but the negative attention these installations received resulted in the concept being dismissed by many operators, and the idea of IPCC fell out of fashion. "At that time, it was impossible to develop high-capacity mo- bile crushing, or systems allowing the use of light infrastructure solutions," Lambert explained. "Today, with partners, Metso can offer IPCC solutions for more than 100,000 tons per day of ore." Heiertz added, "Unfortunately in the past, several IPCC systems were installed and operated with the wrong setup. We analyzed several of these installations and found out that these systems were implemented with the wrong plan- ning approach. "IPCC technology can't be implemented with stan- dard shovel and truck planning. The mine planners need a As part of its consultancy work, RWE offers training for other IPCC operations. (Photo: RWE) Careful mine planning is required to ensure that IPCC operations run smoothly, using a truck and shovel-based plan will not work in this instance. (Photo: Metso)

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