Minerals Handling and Processing Seminar
While the minerals industry continues to focus its attention on the resource-rich nations of Canada, Australia, Brazil and China, a conference held on 27 September in London, UK, decided to look closer to home. The Efficient Minerals Handling and Processing seminar, held at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, focused on the requirements of the UK minerals industry.
Increasing plant efficiency was the main theme of the day. Presenters demonstrated how to improve conveyor systems, control fugitive dust, maintain plant operation and run a mining facility online.
Paul Holt, Materials Handling Manager at Dosco Overseas Engineering Ltd, based in Newark, UK, discussed how an enclosed pipe conveyor system for transporting materials can reduce dust release to zero. ‘The tension and loading capacity is the same as conveyor systems,’ said Holt. ‘But the pipe can curve and rise at steep angles – 50% steeper than troughed conveyors.’
Malcolm Foster of Continental Conveyors Ltd, based in Sunderland, UK, meanwhile put the spotlight on his company’s system, which transports 4,000 tonnes/hour (t/h) of coal at the Hatfield Colliery in Doncaster. ‘This is the biggest capacity conveyor installed in the country,’ said Foster.
This achievement was praised by Neil Battison, an Electrical Engineer at UK Coal Ltd, in his talk on running a mine online. His company’s Daw Mill Colliery, located near Birmingham, can produce 4,000t/h of coal, ‘but our conveyors can only handle 2,000t/h,’ said Battison. ‘The capacity of the Continental conveyor is quite impressive.’
The Daw Mill facility uses the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, which enables 11km of conveyors and tunnels to be controlled by a remote system. From the confines of an office, ‘we know exactly how much electricity is required to run the machines, and can limit power to control speed. We can also [oversee] the belt tension, which allows for smaller and safer belts,’ explained Battison. ‘This application has revolutionised the way we design equipment.’
A fibre optic cable running along Daw Mill’s conveyor system allows videos of the operation to be displayed online, and delegates were impressed by live footage of the conveyors at work.
The environmental impact of minerals processing was also not forgotten during the lectures. Both Holt and Foster outlined the improved abilities of their conveyors to reduce spillage. David Blyth, Managing Director of JD Ultrasonics Ltd, based in Wakefield, UK, meanwhile showcased his firm’s dust-removal technology. Agglomeration is the route to solving fugitive dust problems,’ said Blyth.
Using atomisation technology, an ‘ultra fine fog’ of water particles that are around five microns in size are shot out of a nozzle. The water droplets collide with the dust and drop to the floor without wetting any surfaces. The system uses 18 litres of water per hour, a decrease on the 600 litres traditionally used by sprayers.
Graham Leason, Chair of the event and Director of materials handling consultancy firm Tech-A Ltd, in Wokingham, UK, concluded – ‘Design your plant for materials handling and location, as well as making maintenance simpler. And look for areas to increase efficiency of power and people’.