The Real Cost of Material Handling Problems – And How to Avoid Them

Additonal authors: Holmes, T.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Hartford, C. E.

Investigations reveal that the throughput difference between a perfect production day and the average is often on the order of 40%, and that bulk solids handling system deficiencies are the largest (>50%) class of lost opportunities. Root causes for underperformance of elements in material handling systems can often be traced back to the detailed design and even study-stage oversights. To reduce or eliminate bulk solids handling problems in an existing system requires an analysis of troublesome handling equipment – for example, a concentrate transfer chute that experiences plugging, poor flow to the furnace, unacceptable dust generation, and spillage. These problems often lead to significant maintenance costs related to downtime and personnel time. Understanding the cause and cost of flow issues is the first step in troubleshooting the problem. Next, measuring the material’s flow properties is critical to providing design data required to develop a comprehensive scientific solution. In the case of a new installation, the design data is required to properly design the system right first time and prevent flow problems from occurring so that the new equipment works correctly from start-up. This paper highlights the cost of material handling problems and discusses the best approach to evaluate material handling system deficiencies. A case study is given of how Anglo American's operation in Barro Alto Brazil enjoyed a 5-month payback from a bulk solid transfer chute debottleneck project. INTRODUCTION When operating a plant or designing a greenfield or brownfield operation, the intent is to have perfect production days (PPD) each and every day. Money is made by moving material through the plant in a controlled manner to produce the desired product. Mining operations and copper concentration processes are at the most basic level a practice in bulk solids handling (BSH). Unfortunately, many of the project planning steps are overlooked, particularly related to BSH. Investigations reveal that the throughput difference between a PPD and the actual average is often on the order of 40%, and that BSH system deficiencies are the largest (>50%) class of lost opportunities (Wellwood, 2017). Root causes for underperformance of elements in material handling systems can often be traced back to the detailed design and even study-stage oversights. BSH issues are essentially baked into the fabricated plant and left to operations to accept the deficiencies and deal with them for the life of the mine. These deficiencies then become part of the normal operation of the mine and plant.
Mots Clés: Copper 2019, COM2019
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