Trackless equipment

Mechanization in the deep
John Chadwick looks at LHDs, underground trucks, drill jumbos and support units – better underground roads, fuel cells


rackless machines continue to evolve and become more productive. Nevertheless, it is disappointing to observe the number of underground (and surface) mines that have yet to embrace correct road maintenance. No underground machine will perform to its full potential if the haul roads are not of good quality – even if the task is only moving a jumbo from one face to another. Furthermore, poorly maintained roadbeds are also expensive when trackless vehicles succumb to premature wear and tear. The tyre shortage is not confined to surface equipment and it is never good economic practice to shake machines around more than is necessary. Recent diesel technology developments have made trackless machines safer, more efficient and more cost-effective than ever before. To achieve their full potential, good underground roads are essential, especially with the current tyre supply challenge. Getman’s RDG-1504C Roadbuilder incorporates many of these important advances to help create quality roadway

Produce underground roadbed material with MTI’s HydraCrusher.

systems. It is a complete road maintenance and road building machine that rips up road surfaces, spreads gravel and grades, creating working roads for other equipment to pass. “Typically you’ve got a mess: sloppy, muddy, hard-going conditions,” says President Dana Getman. “The best thing is to come along and keep that clean. The Roadbuilder goes through the mess and makes it flat. It just does a lot of heavy-duty maintenance work.” One significant Roadbuilder technology development is Getman’s exhaust chiller that reduces exhaust temperatures to below 150°C and reduces maintenance and exhaust filter costs. The new design features an air-to-water shell and tube heat exchanger. Hot exhaust gases are directed to an inlet port in the exchanger shell and passed over finned tubes carrying water/glycol antifreeze. The fins and tubes transfer exhaust heat to the antifreeze, which then exits to be cooled by a fan-cooled radiator. Then the

The solid steel Caterpillar front axle on Getman’s Roadbuilder has a 32° oscillation, 18° wheel lean and 50° wheel-turn while chain box final Caterpillar drives are splined to the heavy-duty, no-spin Caterpillar rear axle.

antifreeze circulates back into the shell and the cycle starts again. A fin redesign from previous chiller designs reduces exhaust gas temperature from between 430 and 540°C down to between 66 and 120°C and increases the water/glycol antifreeze temperature only 21°C (from 50 to 90°C). Getman says that compared to other exhaust cooling technologies, its new chiller delivers substantial cost savings. A fibreglass exhaust filter is also new, reducing the risk of fire and poisonous fumes that can endanger miners’ health. Diesel exhaust temperature spikes can burn adhesive filters and release toxic fumes. The new filter, from Filter Service and Testing, uses metal straps to hold the end caps onto the filter, rather than adhesives. A special, heat-resistant fibreglass foam gasket seals the caps and provides a tight seal on the filter element. The gasket is rated at 650°C; higher than the 480°C a diesel exhaust can reach. . Replacing only the filter element offers mines an economical solution to filter maintenance. Getman is the first manufacturer to install the filter on its mining equipment, and will use it in conjunction with the exhaust chiller. “This is another important step in our efforts to lead the way in increasing safety,” Getman said. “By adding this innovative filter to our exhaust chiller system, we’ll be able to further improve air quality and lower the risk of fires.”
December 2005 International Mining 33

Toro’s T60 aims to provide the best possible ownership cost, a truck that fits into existing tunnel sizes, raises operator safety to a new level and is easy to adapt to existing operations.

Of course, diesel engines have been upgraded to make them more efficient and cleaner. The Roadbuilder uses a fourcylinder, turbocharged, aftercooled; Tier 2 Detroit Diesel OM904 diesel engine rated 110 kW at 2,200 rpm. The new electronicallycontrolled smaller engines include design improvements such as cylinder head/ combustion chambers and high-pressure unit fuel injectors to deliver similar or more power than older engines. Electronic engines constantly adjust the timing and duration of fuel injection relative to operating conditions and external factors such as intake air temperature, intake boost pressure, coolant temperature, throttle position, engine speed and loading. This optimized tuning reduces emissions, fuel consumption and maintenance while enhancing engine protection and diagnostics. Its clean, but it moves dirt. Getman says the RDG-1504C Roadbuilder moves more dirt than any motor grader available in the USA. It produces more than 7,120 kg of tractive effort while applying more than 6,600 kg of working effort into the 3.7-m Caterpillar 120H mouldboard blade. Roadbed maintenance can be expensive if mines have to hoist waste rock to surface for crushing and then send it back down for grading and top dressing. Mining Technologies International’s (MTI) HydraCrusher, an LHD bucket with a built-in, hydraulically operated crusher is one solution. Its much cheaper to handle waste underground and create a stockpile of roadbed material. Adjustable jaws chew coarse material of up to 305 mm and crush it to any desired size – down to 19-mm
34 International Mining December 2005

material for top dressing. The bucket, doubling as a hopper, picks rock from a muck pile. The rock passes through the

jaws and the resized material falls to the ground. A quick-attach design allows the unit to be easily fitted to or removed from the LHD. “We also offer a grader blade and a compactor so you can use the same vehicle to do all of your road maintenance, rather than have a fleet of equipment,” said Bob Lipic, MTI President. “Most underground equipment operates without suspension, so if you have rough roads, all that shock is transmitted to every component of the machine,” said Lipic. “With good road maintenance, you will definitely reduce the maintenance costs of your equipment.” MTI manufactures a full line of loaders, trucks, drill jumbos, rail haulage equipment, utility vehicles and in-the-hole (ITH) drilling rigs from two manufacturing plants in Sudbury and one in North Bay, Canada. It is keeping details confidential as yet but is developing a Hybrid Diesel Electric Loader. Another new machine is

tlas Copco’s ST1520 LHD - the first of these units in Australia went to Consolidated Minerals’ Reliance nickel operations in Kalgoorlie. Michael Aspinal, Underground Manager, at the company’s Beta Hunt mine said recently: “The unit has been working very well for the past five months now and has 1,700 engine hours. The operators are very happy with it and it is now the preferred unit on site.” The ST1520 is reported to be faster when tramming, more comfortable to drive, thanks to the good legroom, and the engine does not overheat. This nickel operation was originally developed in the 1970s but was out of action for several years. Recently it has been pumped dry and is now in development for low level production at a rate of 200,000 t/y with a 70% waste to 30% ore ratio. There are proven ore reserves for five years of production. The ST1520 is primarily used for mucking in the main decline, but it also works on some of the incline development headings. Reliance’s Atlas Copco fleet includes the Rocket Boomer L2D for development drifting, the Boomer 104 for narrow vein production drilling and MT5010 Minetrucks for hauling. An on-site Atlas Copco service team keeps them running and available.


its Vein Runner II, a narrow vein hydraulic jumbo with full mechanical power train, a 5.5 m boom reach and next generation Intellsense III drilling controls. A member of the Fuel Cell Propulsion Institute, MTI is closely monitoring the development of alternative energy technologies. “With diesel engines, you can only go so far in reducing emissions, so there’s no doubt about it – the development of new technology is inevitable,” said Lipic. A fuel cell-powered locomotive has performed well in trials under the auspices of the Institute and trials of a similarly powered LHD are in hand. According to Lipic, fuel cell-powered underground equipment is cost-effective to operate, but the initial capital cost is high. “We have to live every day in a profitable world so we can only go as fast as the industry will allow us to go,” he said. “There’s a lot more work to do and a lot of training needed to safely and effectively use and service fuel cell equipment.”

Atlas Copco’s Scaletec is equipped with the powerful Atlas Copco SB 300 Scaler, a hydraulic Solid Body (SB) concept breaker, especially designed for scaling. As a result the breaker is lighter in weight, but still tough on the rock

q Shortage of labour for mining work q From unit to system automation q High environmental focus q Minimize incidents q Focus on operational quality Looking forward she sees: q Decreasing numbers of available mining people q Remote mine locations q Demanding underground mining environment and removal of humans from it q Zero environmental impact q Tough revenue demandsuncompromising business results q Need shorter time to production q Continuous cycle q Standardized mining procedures for global mining companies She expects it to be harder to see where extraction (rock harvesting) starts and the processing continues, enabling the full process to be optimized based on the mineral output. Mines will be highly automated based on precision in mineral extraction technology and a process-type environment will have been created. “We will see an increasing amount of civil engineering diciplines being applied Tamrock’s Axera 6 Cabin is optionally available with heating as well as air conditioning.

Coming soon?
Timo Laitinen, President of Tamrock Underground recently engaged in some gazing into the crystal ball of underground trackless mining and saw: qFurther increased drilling performance and efficiency through new technology qIntegration of excavation process, drilling technology and excavation machinery qImproved equipment utilization with new technology and services His colleague, Tuula Puhakka, Senior Advisor, Mining Business sees the current drivers in underground mining (in an up cycle, with high sensitivity to market change) to be: q Asian and Chinese GDP growth q From BIG to efficient and utilized q From maximizing to optimizing q Large scale underground mines q More selectivity in selective mining methods

in the underground mining environment. There is little or no real work quality measurement used in underground mining today whereas they are standard procedures in construction. This can also be seen in the way equipment is specified. The quality focus will go through the whole process from rock harvesting to processing since the measurements and techniques will need to change. “If we have lifted the demand to a higher level due to China and Asian growth all together, the cyclical peaks will continue to impact our lives. Now we just need to be more adaptable and be able to take advantage of the high portions of the cycle and get the mines on line much sooner than before. If any focus was lost earlier when moving from feasibility and development of the mine to production that will be greatly reduced in future mines. “The increased focus in quality will have a positive impact in safety and environmental awareness in mines and in the industry altogether. We will see much leaner mining operations and they form the basis for larger scale mine automation. “People,” she says, “are a tough call.” She believes we need to take mining to the people, and this editor wholeheartedly agrees. There is much the mining industry needs to do, and can do, to make itself more attractive to young people and the calibre of young people that it needs to attract. Much can be done in education to let young people appreciate the advantages that mining provides through the commodities that we all need in our everyday life. We can also expect to see more multitasking machines, capable, for example, of drilling the face and drilling support holes. As for Tamrock’s revolutionary 1,000 Hz drifter, first hinted at during MINExpo last year, the project proceeds as planned with internal testing underway.

36 International Mining December 2005

Truck innovation
On good quality mine roads, equipment such as Toro’s new T-60 truck can be used very effectively. As noted in IM September 2005 (p.49), it is based on Toro’s innovative, patented rigid frame chassis and triple axle design. It offers a small turning radius, small overall size, and superb driving characteristics. This editor drove it and found it not much different to driving his own car, an automatic, though a little larger! It certainly was easy and comfortable to drive over a basic circuit. Toro is clearly confident of the unit’s potential having established a line in its Turku plant capable of producing about 50 T60s each year. According to George Tophinke, Toro’s Business Line Manager, Australia, the challenges for today’s underground trucks are: q Mines are getting deeper – more productive trucks are required q Making bigger openings is costly – truck envelope size must be kept to minimum q Safety requirements are getting more demanding – requiring safer equipment and better operator comfort. So, when designing the T60, Toro had to provide the best possible ownership cost, provide a truck that would fit into existing tunnel sizes, had to raise operator safety to a new level, and, finally, had to make a truck that was easy to adapt to existing operations. The T60’s ideal loading partner is the new Toro 0011 LHD, designed for massive underground production and large-scale development. Its capacity is 21 t, equipped with 8-10.7 m3 buckets. A Detroit Diesel S-60 engine developing 354 kW powers this machine. Also with an eye on the envelope, Dux has the ET24/DT25 dump truck, which, it says, “is a revolutionary high payload capacity truck incorporated into a small envelope.” It is 2.2 m wide and fitted with a regular dump box has a load capacity of 25 t. Equipped with the ejector box the capacity is 24 t. Dux also has a new generation of cabs for its underground haulers. These are isolated from the chassis and noise levels range from 75 to 82 dB(A), depending on the truck. Vibration, noise and heat transmitted from the chassis are reduced to a minimum thanks to the pin/rubber mounting. The cab is ergonomically improved with good leg room as well as offering easy to read gauges and electronic displays. Air conditioning and heating are standard and the cab is pressurized and filtered. All panels are insulated and windows are double-glazed thus reducing noise even further.
38 International Mining December 2005

“People,” she says, “are a tough call. We need to take mining to the people.”
Dux manufactures a complete line of utility vehicles including the new SLP 5000N scissor lift truck which is specially designed to work in narrow drifts and confined areas thanks to its 1.83-m chassis and 45º articulation angle. The SLP 5000N also has a central oscillation (mid-ship) of 10º to either side that permits four-wheel ground contact on uneven terrain. It comes with pipe handlers to facilitate the installation of pipes and ductwork. It offers a 1.83 m wide x 3.66 m long platform with 4.27 m extended deck height and 6.15 m man reach without stabilizers. While it is normally best to use a purpose-built underground truck, the wide range of articulated dump trucks (ADTs) available could be used in the right applications. Caterpillar has just introduced a second, smaller ejector ADT featuring the Cat C11 engine with ACERT technology. The new unit is the second in the Caterpillar line to use a self-cleaning ejector mechanism that allows material to be spread and dumped on the go, without raising the body. Such units can of course be useful in spreading backfill underground. The ejector body also offers clean load ejection to eliminate productionrobbing carry-back.

Drilling in comfort
Sandvik Tamrock’s Axera 6, compact twinboom jumbo was launched in 2004. As with its predecessor Axera D06, it has gained popularity in underground mine development. With a total population of over 150 machines in use, of which one third is the latest Axera 6 model, it
The operator in the cabin of the Paus RL-852TSL controls the hammer’s breaking power or impact frequency.

represents a considerable market share in the global market. Now the Axera 6 is available with a ROPS and FOPS certified safety cab; insulated from noise and vibration and pressurized for best operator comfort. To provide best operator ergonomics, the proven hydraulic THC controls offer easy and fast boom and drilling operation. The compact envelope size of the Axera 6 has not been compromised. With a total height of 3 m the Axera 6 Cabin is good for cross sections from 3.5 m by 3.5 m and up. It is powered by the Deutz BF4M2012 (74kW) diesel engine for fast and safe tramming. The large tyre size together with high ground clearance allows smooth operation even if road conditions are not as they should be. The choice is between TB26 or TB40 booms, TB26 is simple to operate, with great flexibility for different applications. TB40 is known for robust design, accuracy and full readiness for sensors and instrumentation. The new generation HLX 5 rock drills are standard on Axera 6. The TF cylinder rope feed with 25 kN maximum feed force provides stable drilling even with high power levels. New TFX telescopic feeds are an option. Good serviceability is always a key objective. All daily service points are easily accessible. Covers are designed to protect against falling rocks and water, but not prevent easy servicing of the machine. During 2005 Sandvik Tamrock completed the Solo 5 series, a full range of longhole drill machines for underground excavation. The latest versions meet needs for modular design and common technology platforms. The Solo 5 carrier is the same as for the Robolt 5 and Axera 5 products. The Solo 5 range replaces three current models: Solo 126LC10, Mercury LC22 and the Solo RTS. Solo 5 longhole drills can fit in drifts as small as 3m by 3m and have particular use in small-scale sub-level stoping, vein mining and underground benching. The main components in the drilling module, i.e. boom, feed and cassette, have been redesigned using experience and knowhow from the well proven 07-sizeclass Solos. Additionally, the new SOLO 5 series will introduce the HLX5 drifter.

Boart’s big move
The change in ownership of Boart Longyear (BL) was initially discussed in IM September (p.51). The Johannesburg corporate office will be closed by year-end and relocated to offices at BL’s Salt Lake City plant in the USA. BL Corporate was located in Johannesburg to be close to its former parent, Anglo American. However, more than half of BL’s business now emanates

Trackless equipment
from the Americas and the move will gain closer access to the main business hub and Advent’s (the new owner) key office in Boston, USA. A programme to maximize operating efficiency is already underway. This aims to reduce existing cost structures by identifying the location at which a product is made most competitively, then consolidating BL’s manufacturing plants so the company can single source products from global Centres of Excellence. The success of these centres is in the hands of the team of global product managers, working closely with regional management to ensure a common approach to global strategy and local customer needs. To simplify the structure and maximize efficiencies, the business has been divided into Drilling Services, which is already well established, and Products & Equipment, which encompasses the manufacturing operations. BL is currently finalizing the structure of Products & Equipment. CEO Paul Brunner says the way forward will focus on a three-track growth strategy designed to mitigate the effects of relying on the cyclical ‘boom or bust’ nature of mining and to consolidate BL’s leadership in its core businesses. The first track is in strategic acquisitions. Once Boart Longyear has bedded down in the Advent fold and concluded the process of restructuring and consolidating existing operations, both organic and acquisition growth will be key strategic drivers. A second target is to increase mining market penetration in under-represented territories. “We enjoy a broad geographic footprint in the global mining market and will seek to further penetrate mining markets in Brazil, India, China and Russia.” The third goal is diversification into non-mining drilling services. The StopeMaster is a classic BL product, a fully electric-hydraulic tophammer longhole drill rig, offering increased productivity, at low capital investment, with decreased maintenance costs. Last month we noted interesting StopeMaster sales to the CIS, but what is this rig? Well, compact enough to get into the tightest drilling sites underground, it is designed for efficient dismantling, and reassembly for rapid transport into captive areas. It is ideally suited for drop raises, cable bolting, fan drilling and parallel drilling. Deep hole accuracy is enhanced through superior guidance of the durable feed system and Hercules centralizer. It is designed to produce consistent, high performance regardless of varying operator skill levels or conditions. Importantly, it allows longer intervals between scheduled preventative maintenance and this has been proven through millions of metres of drilling experience.

Load and haul
Agreeing with Sandvik Mining and Construction colleagues quoted earlier on the future and looking generally at the Toro LHD and truck products, Product Line Manager Riku Kesäläinen foresees better control of the mining process meaning ‘transparency’ of the underground operations with onboard data collection, more communication and more data processing. Also, open systems will be required and provided. Increased process/equipment utilization requires automation, monitoring, predictability, reliability and diagnostics. And the requirements for even safer operation embrace both operator safety and machinery safety. Ergonomics,

serviceability (working from heights, etc.) and emissions of noise, gases and fluids are the areas to be addressed. These things will be achieved, he says, through basic technical solutions that encompass hydraulics, mechanics, powerline, electrics, etc. There will be new designs and new technologies, particularly in electronics, IT and communication. Kesäläinen too sees fuel cells playing an important role in the future. The main task to get that going is to find ways of safely handling hydrogen underground. He also foresees, in the near future, Toros without cabs operating on the Automine system – thus saving the tramming of dead weight.

December 2005 International Mining 39

16 km/h, but automated they can run at 30 km/h, making them much more productive. Indeed seven units would have been required if drivers were used.

Roof control
Based on experience from long-term testing of Atlas Copco’s first Scaletec rig in Sweden’s Malmberget mine, a number of new features have been incorporated in the second unit. Operator comfort has been further improved by reducing

The Paus and Schopf LHD product lines complement each other well because Paus is strong in smaller LHDs with payloads of up to 6 t, while Schopf offers a payload range of 6.5-18 t. Above a Paus PFL8 in an apatite mine, on the right an Schopf SFL130 in magnesite.

One of the key drivers for Toro’s Automine system for LHDs and trucks is improved safety and working conditions, made possible by allowing the operators to work from a surface control room. Automine offers: q Semi-automated cycles with automated tramming and dumping, tele-operated bucket loading and on-the-fly mode change q One operator for several LHDs q Condition and production monitoring q Production area isolation q Traffic control q Interfaces to external systems q Scalability to different applications Potential savings in labour costs are 60-75 % (haulage automation with large fleet). For example take this truck haulage case (see box below): The current Automine LHD references are: q Finland - Inmet Mining, Pyhäsalmi mine – one T0011 LHD q Chile – Codelco, El Teniente mine – three T0010 LHDs (Pipa Norte section) and three more T0010 LHDs in Diablo Regimiento section On November 3, De Beers officially opened the world's first automated horizontal truck system with Automine and the Toro T50D trucks at Finsch mine in South Africa. This was the culmination of four years of joint effort by De Beers and Toro (Sandvik Mining and Construction). In opening the new tramming loop, De Beers Consolidated Mines Managing Director Jonathan
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Oppenheimer alluded to De Beers current heavy reliance on open-pit mines and said: “What we are proving here is that we can thrive underground.” He noted today’s open pit can become the underground mine of tomorrow and efficient ways of mining underground, using block-cave methods and automation, would provide an exciting future for De Beers. He explained that Finsch began as an open pit, and the same would happen to other De Beers assets, including Venetia mine, which would need to go underground in the next ten years. The system uses six 50 t T50Ds to haul kimberlite ore from a tipping point to an underground crusher in the new Block Four, the deepest mining section at Finsch. Block Four extends the life of Finsch by a further nine years. With drivers, South African mining legislation would restrict tramming speed to

vibrations. A new operators chair with built in pneumatic shock absorber both eliminates vibrations and offers a number of adjustment options to suit each individual operator. The front end of the machine was previously only supported by conventional hydraulic jacks, but now also uses the shovel blade to ensure a stable set-up. Safety and visibility have been improved by moving the boom attachment further forward. The cabin lift and tilt system combined with a new design with steel bar protection across the windscreen makes it easy for the operator when scaling in higher areas. Hydraulic hoses have been relocated to better protect them from rock falls. Excellent manoeuvrability is achieved by the positioning system’s proportional functions. The configuration of the control sticks and buttons has been adjusted according to operator experience

Lifetime of project Fleet Operation Number of manual operators Number of system operators (auto) Labour cost per operator Total lifetime saving

10 years 6 trucks five days/week and three shifts/day 21 (six/shift x 3 shifts + three relief) 5 - 9 (1 to 2 operators/shift x 3 shifts + 3 relief) €30,000/y €3.6 – 4.8 million

Trackless equipment
from the Malmberget tests. That original machine already featured a newly developed boom system with a built-in hammer angle compensation for reduced boom positioning time. Scaling is traditionally one of the most hazardous jobs underground. Using mechanized rigs can drastically cut the accident rate. Operators enjoy a safe working environment with good working area visibility. Productivity as well as quality of scaling will increase. The control system for the carrier has been integrated into the RCS (Rig Control System). The Scaletec design is based on years of rock excavation experience. For example, the carriers for the twin-boom Boomer jumbos and the Scaletec MC rigs are almost identical, which reduces the need for storage of unique parts, thereby simplifying maintenance routines when working with a full package of Atlas Copco equipment. Scaletec is a new member, but already an integrated part of the Atlas Copco product family. Scaletec offers a number of functional features and options, for example strategically located water nozzles for dust suppression and the choice between electrical or dieselhydraulic tramming and scaling. The complete unit comprises an SB 300 Scaler hydraulic breaker, a Scaler boom, an M-series carrier, a 75-kW electric motor, RCS, hydraulically driven compressor and water pump. Its transportation height is 3 m, length 13.5 m and width 2.2 m. Its total weight is 19 t. Cemento Melon’s underground Navio mine lies 15 km northeast of La Calera in Chile’s 5th Region. It mines some 3,380 t/d of limestone. Navio has long been a leader in the use of trackless, mechanized equipment in Chile. Because of the development of drifts and production benches, mechanized scaling is a priority. Limestone being a stratified sedimentary rock, falls are one of the main potential safety hazards in the mine. Earlier this year Navio put into operation its second Paus RL-852TSL scaler unit equipped with a hydraulic hammer. This is an innovative concept developed by Paus, optimizing the scaling operation since - unlike other designs that position the hydraulic hammer pointing at the rock (only one point of percussion) causing fragility and overbreak - the RL-852TSL attacks the rock using a telescopic arm working together with the hydraulic hammer, scratching the walls and roof to knock off the loose rocks. Paus and Schopf have combined their sales and service activities for

Meyco’s Logica 10 mounted on a Cobra is not commercially available but soon will be. This is the cutting edge of spraying robot technology for the application of shotcrete.



December 2005 International Mining 41

Trackless equipment
customers in mining. The two LHD ranges have been merged. In addition the international partners will market the Paus truck and utility vehicle range jointly. “As a result of the merger customers will now have the largest loader range on the market with a total of nine models. We have already started marketing in the traditional mining areas of South America, Africa and Eastern Europe and are expecting the first successes shortly,” report Dr Hermann Brüggemann, managing partner of Schopf and Franz-Josef and Wolfgang Paus, managing partners of Hermann Paus. “For customers of both companies there will be significant advantages from an integrated product range and service all from one place. With a well diversified dealer network we are now also in a position to pit ourselves against the major competitors.” ready to start, within minutes. As soon as spraying is finished, the equipment has to be removed so that the next part of work cycle can begin immediately. The three main components are Meyco’s Suprema concrete spraying machine, the Minima spraying manipulator, which can be packed away very neatly and can be extended without needing additional room, and a 4 x 4 articulated Paus carrier. The whole unit is very robust. The Cobra now includes Meyco’s TDC (Total Dosing Control) system. For 2006 there are some significant new features: cable reel and electric cabinet are hinged to allow instant and full access to the diesel motor; heated electric cabinet and remote control to prevent condensation; and central lubrication will reduce wear and tear on moving parts and cut maintenance time. At Ekati diamond mine, the underground maintenance superintendent Jack Wanner turned to Finning to build a shotcrete machine based on Cat’s 420D backhoe. “We looked at some other machines, but they were a bit too unstable, which is why we elected to go with the 420D backhoe and put the shotcrete sprayer on the back,” he explains. “The 420D is a little wider so it is more stable.” Finning’s equipment preparation team removed the backhoe attachment, the rear swing frame, the valve group and hand controls. The rear backhoe mount was sheared off. A mounting plate to accommodate the shotcrete sprayer was designed and welded to the rear of the machine. The team designed a table to mount the attachments needed for the sprayer and bolted those to the mounting plate. Separate welds on the mounting plate allowed the shotcrete arm, transformer and cable reels to be bolted on. The hydraulic valve from the shotcrete boom was moved to the table, fastened to the mount and re-hosed. The boom rest was attached to the mount allowing for components to be easily removed for repair. In addition to these changes, Finning installed two 500-W work lights to the back of the cab. For health and safety, a fire suppression system and a catalytic muffler to scrub the vehicle’s exhaust were added. Other additions included a 600 A main battery fuse, a central heater system and a stand to mount the shotcrete remote controls. Shotcrete is mixed at the surface, poured into 1,000 kg bags and transported down into the mine. Underground, it is dumped into the portable mixer carried by the modified backhoe. The sprayer connects to the mixer with a 50-mm thick hose, using air pressure to blast the shotcrete onto walls. The machine can be operated from either inside the cab, or outside by remote control. One benefit of the modified 420D backhoe is convenience. Parts are easily available at the mine site. Ekati has a number of 400 series backhoes on surface so there’s no need to stock different fuel filters. That’s a serious issue for the mine because it is very expensive to ship parts. The machine has become indispensable. Wanner ordered another modified 420D. “It has worked out well. Its spraying shotcrete every day. It is now part of the regular mining cycle," he says. “We wanted to see how it worked but it has really done the job, so much so that we need another machine. The ingenuity of Finning in designing the shotcrete sprayer and the ability to maintain the equipment is impressive.” IM
Marcotte developed the M40 Fanhandler, a unit to safely install and remove large ventilation fans, following a workplace accident, which had resulted in a serious injury, at Inco’s Coleman-McCreedy East mine in Canada. This removed worker exposure from what can be a complicated and sometimes hazardous operation. It combines a boom truck frame and an adapted boom function with a fine controlled manipulator arm and can install or remove 0.7 to 1.37 m diameter fans in a much reduced time span. It can lift fans weighing up to 1,800 kg with a 2.4-m reach. A 320° manipulator arm rotation allows precision reach into confined or tight working areas and the fine fan positioning adjustments allows workers to perform the most difficult fan changes.

Shotcrete excellence
Meyco says it benefits from being a part of the UGC International organization within Degussa Construction Chemicals. Using know-how and synergies, shotcretespraying systems are developed and harmonized for greatest efficiency leading to a better product. These include wetand dry-spraying machines, manipulators (large and small), complete mobile units and special constructions for specific projects. Meyco’s own research and development is dedicated to shotcrete and the improvement of quality in both application and end result. The Cobra S is the latest generation Meyco spraying mobile for mining. All the necessary components on one chassis and the ability to get to all parts of a mine are very important. In today’s tight time schedules, it is imperative that spraying set-up is achieved, and the machine is

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