Aiding laser focus: Dragline terrain mapping

The dream of many sites is to increase production and at the same time drive down safety risks.

The development of realtime digital terrain mapping technology is now aiding one Queensland coal mine in achieving this.

Created in a partnership with LC, MIneWare’s Digital Terrain Mapping (DTM) system uses a series of boom mounted laser scanners and GPS sensors to continuously scan and map the area around draglines as they operate.

DTM is an extension of MineWare’s existing Pegasys dragline monitor, and tracks movement around the dragline while it works, providing live and historical comparisons between the mine plan and the actual ground as it changes.

Andrew Jessett, MineWare’s CEO, said a total scan of the dragline’s operating environment – both inside and outside of the set work area – is created by the scanners as the machine is swinging back and forth during its regular operations.

“This technology allows us to compare actual terrain to design in a visual sense,” he said.

“What this means is that we can significantly improve design compliance and reduce common operating errors by helping the operator know precisely where to dig and where to dump it.

“Operators and foremen can now identify and correct areas not to design as they occur (especially spoil toe), reducing the need for surveyors in the put. This is a big step forward for safety and productivity as problems can be fixed while the dragline is where with minimum coal loss from excavation.”

Regarding the successful trials at the unnamed Central Queensland coal mine, Jessett stated that this continuous pit data coming in is now allowing operators, dispatch/foreman, surveyors, and engineers to monitor operations in a safer environment. 

“With this improved data flowing back to the office, our client can see not only what has been completed but also calculate volumes, geo-tech analysis and monitoring, and check bucket factor  calculations when required,” he said.

“This improves safety by reducing the need for surveyors to complete scans themselves and work in potentially hazardous areas in the pit to check that the machine is digging to design.”

LC director Bruce Leslie add that the core value of the DTM system is the live “continuous reconciliation” process which improves operator efficiency.

“When it comes to correcting dig to plan errors, timing is everything,” Leslie said.

“Once a dragline has moved on, it is too late to go back and correct an issue; if an operator digs in the wrong place or creates batters at the wrong angle then the only time to correct the issue is right then and there, not once the dragline has moved to the next block.”

According to MineWare trials have shown live updates verified to within <300 millimetres of actual altitude in most environmental conditions.

It went on to add that the payback period for the technology, after examining reductions in spoil room errors or low wall dig to plan errors, has been as low as three months.

The roadmap for the third industrial revolution [video]

Schneider Electric and economist Jeremy Rifkin discuss the challenges the world faces as it enters the third industrial revolution.

In the discussion he outlines our current economic and energy hurdles and provides a potential roadmap for our third industrial revolution.

Decmil win Atlas Iron construction contract

Atlas Iron has awarded Decmil a major road design and construction project in the Pilbara.

Valued at $34 million, the contract is for the Woodstock Marble Bar road upgrade works and realignment of around 55 kilometres of roading, including sealing workers, floodways, and construction works.

It will mobilise later this month, with completion scheduled for May this year.

Decmil CEO Scott Criddle said “we are delighted to commence 2014 with this win from Atlas”.

This contract follows another major mining win for Decmil in late November, when it was awarded the construction contract for diesel fuel infrastructure at Roy Hill.

First new articulated dump trucks hit Australia

As the cost of fuel rises, and the rebate tax scheme fails to support the growing demand of many operations, operators are look to more fuel efficiency from their vehicles, without sacrificing payload.

One Australian quarry, EB Mawson & Sons’ Lake Boga Quarry, has looked to Hitachi’s new Bell B30E articulated dump trucks to address these concerns.

The operation is the first in Australia to receive the trucks, according to Hitachi.

Jim Gardner, Hitachi Construction Machinery national product manager – articulated dump trucks said the “new B30E is a showcase of Bell’s approach to design, [as] demand for trucks that are more fuel efficient, yet haul higher payloads, continues to drive product advancement in the ADT markets”.

The trucks were initially launched in to Australia late last year, with a new design and features dvanced emissions technology for rapid engine response and better cold-start performance, faster haul cycles, and most importantly better fuel efficiency.

Purpose built for harsh conditions found on mine sites, the E-Series incorporates central oscillation, high suspension travel on all axles, and a balanced weight distribution which provides greater agility across uneven mine surfaces.

Gardner added that “safety is always a priority for quarry operators and the new B30E is no exception”.

“Incorporating hill start assist and vertical tip angle safety monitoring, the new trucks are also equipped with onboard load weighing and keyless start as standard.”

EB Mawsons & Sons’ Lake Boga Quarry manager Darren Colville added that “safety is our number one priority, and the Bell truck delivers when it comes to safety features, with everything from reverse cameras and mirror packages to onboard inclinometer and weighing systems”.

It has dual engine braking coupled with automated transmission retardation which contributes to greater retarding power an in turn reduced brake wear. The retarder power can be adjusted to ensure a controlled descent in most conditions.

The articulation joints are reinforced while the chassis is built from high-strength welded alloy steel, which provides greater overall durability while lowering machine mass and reducing powertrain and structural stress.

Colville explained that its articulation was a major factor as “at Lake Boga we prefer to operate articulated trucks due to bench width requirements”.

“These trucks allow us to extract more from the quarry; Bell’s new design makes it easy for our operators when manoeuvering in and out of the pit.

“They also enjoy the cabin and the smoother ride.”

The cabin comes with sound suppression, ergonomic controls, and a greater operator visibility.

The B30E is driven by a Mercedes Benz OM 926LA engine which gives 240kW of gross power and has a bin volume of 17.5 cubic metres with a rated payload of 28 000 kilograms.

McAleese Resources wins Atlas Iron haulage contract

McAleese has won a fifth iron ore haulage contract with Atlas Iron at its Mt Webber operations.

The four year contract, valued at approximaetly $250 million, involves the loading and hauling of around three million tonnes of iron ore annually.

The contract will start mid next year, with ore shipments expected to commence from the June quarter of 2014.

Paul Garaty, McAleese’s CEO, said “Mt Webber will be a significant addition to Atlas Iron’s ore exports and we look forward to working with Atlas to continue safely and efficiently deliver iron ore to port from their fifth mine commissioned in five years”.

“The flexibility and lower capital requirements of road haulage has delivered an effective transport solution for Atlas and supported their rapid growth,” he said.

“With Atlas’ complement of smaller scale, close to port mines, having the flexibility to dynamically schedule the road transport fleet to meet production, shipping, and grade quality targets is paramount.

“We are delighted that we continue to be Atlas’ preferred road transport provider.”

Mt Webber is located 230 kilometres away from Port Hedland’s Utah Point port facility, and will now see, after the signing of this contract, an additional 22 McAleese road trains hauling an extra 500 000 kilometres per month.

This takes it total haulage distance with Atlas to around three million kilometres per month.

RPM’s latest release of HAULNET makes it easier for miners to significantly reduce haulage costs

Runge Pincock Minarco (RPM) announces the latest release of HAULNET with additional functionalities to simplify the tool’s use for engineers.

RPM’s HAULNET delivers engineers an intelligent tool that can help to dramatically reduce one of the largest costs facing mining operations today – haulage.
Previously, one of the biggest hurdles for engineers to deliver real cost savings has been the effort required to create accurate and usable haulage models. The lack of a dedicated software application for haulage has necessitated a high level of manual intervention to create fully connected networks. This, in turn meant that real in-depth analysis of haulage cost could never be completed. 

HAULNET was developed not only to create this connected network but also to perform the underlying analysis. The latest release has made the haulage network creation process even easier. 
Where previously, users would input their haulage network created in an array of applications into HAULNET for analysis, the new version comes with added functionality to enable users to create their haulage network on the fly. 
The new user interface enables users to quickly and easily build haul networks from scratch. The intuitive application snaps the route to the underlying surface and extends it to join existing roadways, nodes and points of interest; interprets and rationalises the haulage network; autocorrects creation mistakes and smoothens out routes; and removes unnecessary detail that isn’t required to perform an accurate analysis. 
This latest release now sees HAULNET take advantage of 64-bit operating systems allowing for even faster analysis of complex haulage networks. 
HAULNET 2.1 has also added support for the Russian language to meet the needs of their customer base in the Russian and CIS markets. The availability of HAULNET in the local language enables local engineers to use the tool to help reduce one of the largest costs on their mine sites. HAULNET allows them to perform more detailed haulage analysis and in a far shorter timeframe.
HAULNET 2.1 is available as an upgrade for all existing users with valid maintenance contracts.

Terex sells trucks arm to Volvo

Terex Corporation has sold its trucks business to Volvo Construction Equipment for USD $160 million.

The business manufactured and sold off highway rigid and articulated haul trucks.

It is also selling off the manufacturing facility in Motherwell, Scotland, as part of the deal which is targeted to close in the first half of next year.

The deal will see Volvo acquire five models of rigid haulers, with payloads ranging from 32 to 91 short tons.

It also adds another three models of articulated haulers to Volvo CE’s portfolio.

“The truck business has been an important part of our Company for more than three decades and continues to produce world class products with dedicated and talented employees,” RonDeFeo, Terex’s chairman, stated.

“However, trucks no longer fit within our changing portfolio of lifting and material handling businesses. I am confident that the truck business will benefit by joining a company sharing similar competencies and offering complementary products and services. We are pleased to have entered into this agreement with Volvo, which represents a strong strategic buyer for the business who values our distribution network and team members.”

He went on to state that the “sale of the truck business reflects our strategy to manage our portfolio of businesses and focus on those businesses that provide the greatest returns for our shareholders”.

“We recently announced the initiation of quarterly cash dividends to our shareholders and a share repurchase program and the proceeds from this sale aid our efforts to improve our financial efficiency and implement these programs.”

Volvo Construction Equipment’s presidentPat Olney added that “this is a strategic acquisition that offers Volvo CE considerable scope for growth in light mining applications”.

“The addition of a range of rigid haulers extends the earthmoving options for customers involved in light mining applications at a time of renewed confidence in the sector.

“The addition of TEL’s articulated hauler range will enhance our position in this segment, particularly in high-growth markets. We believe that the Motherwell facility and its global team members, as well as the current distribution partners, are valuable to the success of the business in the future.”

As part of Volvo’s acquisition, it has also gained a 25.2% holding in Inner Mongolia North Hauler Joint Stock, which builds and sells rigid haulers under the Terex brand in China.

Stop subsidising car makers, says FMG chief

Fortescue Metals Group’s CEO Nev Power has told a business event that subsidies to car makers should end, recommending that Australia stop pandering to special interest groups or risk ending up like Greece.

Power, the keynote speaker at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event titled “Resource Investment – Where to from here?”, urged the government to stare down the auto industry and unions.

"Beware of special interest groups that come looking for subsidies or protection; that will tear our economy down," he said, according to The Australian.

Power, formerly an executive at Smorgon Steel, made his comments as the federal government awaits a Productivity Commission report on subsidies the car makers. Holden has requested further assistance, and some have interpreted the recent refusal of the regional head of General Motors (Holden’s parent company) to meet the federal government as a sign it plans to cease manufacturing in Australia.

"If we start living in an environment where we expect entitlement, then we'll end up looking like Greece eventually."

Power claimed that passenger vehicles made up only a tiny part of the total auto industry.

"Why is the car industry different to any other industry?" he asked.

It has not been reported that Power made any comparisons to his own industry, which, according to a report by left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute received over $4.5 billion in subsidies in 2012, up by $492 million from the previous year.

Power also said wage expectations for mining jobs needed to be lower

"There is this expectation all around Australia, and perhaps the world, that if you come to Western Australia you can get $100,000 to drive a truck," he said.

"We need productive labour, we need efficient labour, we need labour that can add true value."


240 jobs to go as Caterpillar closes another manufacturing facility

240 people will lose their jobs in mid-2014 as mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar continues to respond to slowing demand from the resources sector.

The losses will come from the company’s Pulaski facility in the US state of Virginia when the doors close early next year.

In announcing the closure, Caterpillar said some production will be shifted to its Houston plant in Pennsylvania.

“…these actions are needed to make our underground mining business more efficient and competitive, which will be achieved by consolidating production at our Houston, Pennsylvania, plant,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier this year Caterpillar cut its 2013 profit forecast after a 43.5 per cent drop in the company’s second-quarter earnings.

"There's no question there's a slowdown. But long-term … mining is a great place to be," Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar's chairman and chief executive, told CNBC at the time.

Closer to home, Caterpillar cut 200 jobs from its Burnie plant in Tasmania’s north-west.

The company said in a statement that the decision came after an extensive review of its Burnie operations which led it to the conclusion that move was necessary to ensure it remained competitive.

"This shift in production will allow us to streamline the Burnie manufacturing footprint and focus on the production of underground mining machine models that are largely used within the Australian market,'' Burnie facility manager Dan Barich said.

These aren't the first job losses from the Burnie facility. In February 100 jobs were cut from the plant and in September another 70 casual workers lost their jobs.

Weaker metals demand in China and elsewhere has caused large miners such as Rio Tinto to cut back capital spending. In turn, this caused Caterpillar to identify mining equipment demand as a weak point.

First Australian dust suppressing dump truck body launched

Austin Engineering is launching its first Westech flow control body for off-highway trucks in Australia.

The two truck bodies will be built by Austin in Muswellbrook for use on a Hunter Valley coal mine.

Austin explained that the bodies have an innovative floor design that controls material flow out of the body during dumping.

It provides a more even flow that reduces dust generated during the process, without the use of chemicals or water suppression technology.

It also results in less friction on the body’s steel floor, cutting wear levels and reducing maintenance and the need for liner kits.

“The floor design also keeps the centre of gravity of the load forward of the rear axle longer while in the dump cycle, reducing material surge as the load leaves the truck body. This eliminates lift at the front of the truck, making the truck much safer with increased stability,” the company added.

The dust suppressing truck bodies have already seen service in the US.

The ones planned for the Hunter Valley will be fully manufactured in Australia.

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