Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2013

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 62 of 171

UNDERGROUND HAULAGE The key elements of Caterpillar's Rock Flow system. Above: an RF300 Rock Feeder. Right: An RM900 Rock Mover unit. (Images courtesy of Caterpillar) cars that travel along a light rail track at speeds up to 8 m/s (18 mph). Operated by remote control, the technology comprises simple components that allow continuous material haulage without diesel emissions, and with significantly less capital and maintenance costs than other options, the company said. "Rail-Veyor has the ability to maneuver through complex track geometries, transport through difficult topography and easily stop and start on gradients up to 20%," said the company's CEO, Ron Russ. "Its efficiency as an automated system with a small environmental footprint is something heavy rail can't touch." According to Rail-Veyor, its system eliminates the need for underground infrastructure such as ore passes, crusher stations and large bins. It enables mines to go deeper and easily transport far below the shaft within a 2.4×2.4 m (8 ft square) opening, and integrate with existing mobile equipment if necessary. Vale installed a Rail-Veyor at its Copper Cliff 114 orebody in December 2011, with the system becoming operational last June, doubling the mine's advance and production rates. "Lead time to production for any project is extremely critical for the return on investment," said Alex Henderson, Vale's general manager for underground mine technology. "If we can develop twice as fast as we currently do to bring an ore zone into production, and reduce it from four years of pre-capital expenditures to two, this has a huge impact on the ROI." "It's an honor to be recognized by our peers in business," said Russ at the Bell Excellence Awards. "It is rewarding to see so much interest in our technology from so many industries worldwide." With mines getting deeper, investment financing harder to come by and energy prices rising, operators need to chose an underground haulage system that will help them cut costs and reduce their environmental footprint. There are more options available today than ever before. Some are suitable for specific applications; others are more generic; others still offer a radical approach to an age-old requirement. Somewhere in there is the right choice, but it needs to be made early so the appropriate infrastructure can be built into the mine design. A Rail-Veyor 'train' discharging material from underground into a surface hopper. (Photo courtesy of Rail-Veyor) JUNE 2013 • E&MJ 61

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