Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 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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MATERIAL HANDLING JUNE 2018 • E&MJ 43 thrust and the braking action on the 17% incline. "The train itself is free on the track," Langevin said. The ability to twist gave it a distinct ad- vantage over coarse conveyors. "A regular conveyor needs straight lines," Langevin said. Because it could negotiate curves, the miner could reuse existing drifts. "Drifts are expensive," Langevin said. "When you factor this in, it is a huge savings." Rail-Veyor, while representing a bigger initial capital expense, promised to incur lower operating expenses than did the al- ternative hauler-based system. "It is much cheaper per metric ton (mt)," Langevin said. "What also sold it for us was the fact that, compared to trucks, trucks are more and more expensive the longer you go." And the Rail-Veyor would enable the miner to maintain its cost structure when it ex- tends Goldex, he said. This could ensure the mine could maintain "one of the low- est underground mine costs in the world." On paper, Rail-Veyor won out and landed the contract. The challenge became mak- ing the theoretical practical, something that would require the supplier to compromise and modify some aspects of their designs. "They were very open," Langevin said. Deep 1 would have to be designed around the system, but the system would have to best serve the needs of the miner. Initially, Rail-Veyor envisioned using only two trains, each 650 m long. "In an un- derground environment where drifting is expensive, that 600-m train meant that we had to excavate at each end of the sys- tem 600 extra m of development," Lan- gevin said. "When we came back to the drawing board with them, that is where we came to the final design, which is the six shorter trains to maximize the use of the drift that we already had." The system ultimately proved to offer a range of benefits. First, it saved the miner time. Goldex wanted a solution that didn't require a new crusher and Rail-Veyor was one an- swer. The system enabled the miner to reuse existing excavations. "We had an ex- ploration ramp that went all the way down to 1,000 m," Langevin said. The ramp wasn't straight, but "could be reused with the Rail-Veyor," he said. "That was one of the deciding factors." Second, it would bring worker health and safety benefits. "If we had 12 to 14 trucks on the ramp at any given time, those are big trucks and they don't have that much visibility so that would have been a risk," Langevin said. "It also reduces the risks of fire because there is almost nothing to burn on the system, com- pared to either trucks or conveyors." Further, it is electrically powered. "Trucks generate combustible, breath- able particles, CO 2 , dust, noise, heat, all of which aren't true for the Rail-Veyor," Langevin said. "That is a big advantage as well." Because it is automated and operates in a separate, restricted-access drift, workers are never in contact with it while it is operating. "That drift is closed off to circulation so there is no one in the area of Rail-Veyor when it works," he said. "We eliminate all contact with humans." Third, by running on electricity and requiring only limited ventilation it has a smaller energy footprint. "The best diesel engine in the world converts about 36% of energy to actual movement," Langevin said. "The Rail-Veyor converts 85% to 90% because it is electric." As the system is being commissioned and trialed, Deep 1 is increasing produc- tion while other areas of the mine are "ramping down," Langevin said. This is optimum, he said, because it enables a gradual ramp-up of the system. "Right now, we're producing on average 7,000 mt per day (mt/d) from the line," he said. "Roughly 4,000 come from the old areas and 3,000 comes from Deep 1, which has to go through the Rail-Veyor." Even- tually the system will haul 6,000 mt/d. The miner is using the commissioning period to perfect the system. The system runs during the night shift and mainte- nance occurs on day shift. "At some point, we will have less maintenance to perform on the system going down the road, but at this point we are very much in the initial failure area where everything that is under-designed in the system fails Like a roller coaster, the cars come around a bend and then briefly flip over to dump the ore. (Photo: Agnico Eagle) Low-profile steel cars in either 30 in. or 48 in. widths are linked together with a spill-proof connection to create a continuous U-shaped trough. (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

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