Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2018

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MATERIAL HANDLING 42 E&MJ • JUNE 2018 www.e-mj.com Three majors recently reported commis- sioning ore transport systems advertised as free of combustion engines. On sepa- rate continents, each faced unique chal- lenges in doing such, but announced the benefits outweighed costs. One commissioned a rail-based system that speeds through pre-existing winding drifts underground. It cited the worker health benefits of a diesel exhaust-free work environment as a major impetus. Another commissioned a ski lift-style ropeway system to move ore up a moun- tain ridge that gets hammered by winter weather. The miner, frequently the target of litigious local green activists, cited the minimal environmental footprint of the system as a core benefit. And the third commissioned a system that included a conveyor, rail system and a port terminal. It reported the vast system would enable the project to become "sustainable." The three solutions represent instances of innovation that seek to answer the twin challenges of rising energy and labor costs. They also speak to the idea that the mines of tomorrow, while employing fewer people, will be safer, more environmentally-friendly places to work than the mines of yore. Rail-Veyor Handles Curves Underground In April, Rail-Veyor Technologies Glob- al Inc. announced a Rail-Veyor system is hauling "all the production material at Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.'s Goldex mine in Val d'Or, Canada, for their Deep 1 project." Official operation of the system com- menced in May 2017, and by the second quarter of 2018, a "total of six Rail-Veyor trains are being used in a fully automated and synchronized operation," Rail-Veyor reported. Agnico Eagle reported satisfaction with the system, which they said offered lower operating expenses than the alter- natives and allowed the miner to more easily extend Deep 1 as needed. The miner first considered the technolo- gy in 2010, Frédéric Langevin, general man- ager, Goldex Complex, Agnico Eagle, said. "In 2010, when we were engineering the LaRonde Extension, Rail-Veyor had been an option at that time," he said. "However, it was rated second behind the coarse convey- or they finally put in because of the higher capital costs at the time combined with the fact that it was still an unproven technology in an underground environment." Agnico Eagle gave Rail Veyor a sec- ond look in 2014, considering it an op- tion for the Deep 1 project. Things had changed since 2010. "We learned that in late 2010, just after we had the quote for LaRonde Extension, the company changed hands and the new guys took the system very differently," Langevin said. The new owners come from the heavy rail indus- try and the fabrication industry, he said. "They looked at the system very differently and they brought the capital costs of the system way down by re-engineering it." The new owners stayed true to the orig- inal design, simplifying it. And their esti- mates showed, Langevin said. "When we had the initial quote for the system for Deep 1 for Goldex, for three times the length, it came in at half the price as the 2010 esti- mate for the LaRonde Extension," he said. Rail-Veyor would have to go head-to- head on costs and safety with a coarse con- veyor system and a hauler-based system. Its unique design brought advantages and benefits that ultimately enabled it to win. The system is rail-based and oper- ates six trains. Each is comprised of 68 2.4-m-long cars, connected by pins de- scribed as Torrington joints, and with each car jointed to the next by a flexible piece of conveyor belt, forming a continuous but articulated 166-m trough. "Because it is composed of individual cars pinned to the front car, they are able to negotiate turns as tight as 40 m," Langevin said. "The train is capable of twisting a bit over a certain distance and going around bends as well." Each train has side plates that are squeezed by the system's drive stations, which are separated by 37 m of track. "These drive stations are very simple: just two motors, two reducers, two tires, and the tires squeeze the train and push it along the track," Langevin said. "In our case, each train at any given time is in contact with four to five of these drive stations." The drive stations provide the Footprint Reduction Afoot: Mostly Truckless Systems Are Commissioned Suppliers provide ore transport solutions that cut costs, reduce payrolls and further the sustainable mining paradigm By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer Tires on the Rail-Veyor drive stations grip side plates on the cars and propel them down the line. (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

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