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he article discusses the design of transfer chutes

in the iron ore industry of Western Australia. It re-
views the changes in design over the last 40 years
and gives some insight as to why the changes have been
necessary. A computational method is used to com-
pare the designs considered, in particular, the impact
of the designs on belt wear. Te article discusses some
of the problems experienced with the new designs as
well as looking at modifying existing chutes to improve their
1 Introduction
Te iron ore industry in Western Australia has been operating
now for some forty years and from those exciting times which
established the industry we are experiencing further exciting
times expanding the industry to meet increasing world demand.
Te materials handling industry has contributed to this expan-
sion with advances in conveyor belt design to achieve higher
annual capacity being wider, faster and longer. Te advances in
conveyor design have focused attention on transfer chute de-
sign to handle the higher tonnages, without blockages and with
less spillage.
To achieve higher productivity the materials handling systems
needs to be more reliable, less prone to productive outages and
less time to repair and return to service, in other words higher
utilization and higher availability.
Tis article reviews some transfer designs used in the early days,
which prove adequate for the rst 20 to 30 years and then re-
views current designs in green eld projects and highlights some
of problems to modify existing designs to increase productivity
in brown eld projects. Transfer chute design today requires that
the operating and maintenance requirements are addressed in-
cluding eliminating blockages, minimizing spillage, increasing
conveyor belt life, improved wear life of liners
and ease of replacement. All the elements of chute design should
be investigated and considered including rock boxes, at impact
plates, curved receiving and discharge plates and lined chutes in
order that the transfer station is optimized for the particular ap-
plication and operating conditions.
2 General Review
Te typical transfer chutes reviewed in this article are based on
engineering standards current at the time both yesteryear and
the present. In the early days there were two concepts, the rock
box and the impact plate. Te dierence between the two con-
cepts were based on subjective preferences with regards to the
issues of minimizing operational problems (chute blockages)
and minimizing maintenance problems (chute wear) Te rock
box type minimized wear, where as, the impact plate increases
maintenance but gave perceived advantages for centrally load-
ing the burden on the belt and ease of replacement.
In practice both types gave good service while the material re-
mained dry and free owing. Dust generation and degradation
of product lump were not considered in detail and both con-
cepts could have been improved in this respect. Te chute design
approach used in this article has been the application of a contin-
uum method of material ow through the chute and has been ap-
plied to analyze the transfer chutes considered.
Te design of the chutes could have been undertaken using a
Discrete Element Method (DEM). Te DEM methodology mod-
A.E. Maton, Australia
Te materials handling industry has contributed to the
expansion of the iron ore industry with faster and
longer high capacity belt conveyor systems. In the
course of this development, transfer chute design
has become quite a demanding task. Even with
todays new designs, operating problems can
occur and improvements
are still possible.
Transfer Station Design
Developments in the Iron Ore Industry
Belt Conveying
94 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
els a large system of particles in motion.
It is particularly useful where ow stream
behavior cannot be solved by a continu-
um method.
In both methods for the design of transfer
chutes, an experienced judgment is re-
quired to account for the coecient of
restitution. Te estimate of the C of R is
based on experience of the typical iron ore
transfer chutes illustrated in this article.
Te solution by DEM requires the applica-
tion of extensive computational complex-
ity. Te continuum method by compari-
son requires relatively more manageable numerical techniques.
3 Properties of Iron Ore
As with all elements in a materials handling system the prop-
erties of the material to be handled must be known. Other-
wise operational and maintenance expectations may be disap-
pointing. In general the properties required with an indication
of the typical values to be expected for iron ore are shown as
Bulk density: 2.0 to 2.5 t/m
Angle of Repose (AOR): 30 to 40
Lump size:
Primary crushed -300 mm + 0 mm
Secondary crushed -100 mm + 0 mm
Lump ore - 30 mm + 6 mm
Fine ore - 6 mm + 0 mm
Cohesion (Not to be confused with surface cohesion):
Free owing AOR < 30
Normal 30 < AOR < 45
Slow owing 45 < AOR < 60
Other Properties:
Very abrasive
Sharp edges
Dusty when dry
Sticky when wet
4 Flowability of Iron Ore
Flowability parameters are determined by testwork as described
in J [1] and TUNRA [2] on a representative sample. Blocked
chutes cause production downtime and a knowledge of the ow-
ability parameters will assist to minimize the loss of production.
Bulk Density - varies with load and moisture content
Angle of Repose - varies with moisture and clay inclusions
Internal Friction - high internal friction angles generally indicate
increase handling diculties.
Eective Internal Angle of Friction - in general, ne and dry solids
have low values, while coarse and wet solids have large values.
Static Internal Angle of Friction - the friction developed within the
solid at an exposed surface of a pipe.
Wall Friction - low wall friction angles are recommended for
practical chute design but importantly allows for chute angles to
be determined.
Cohesion and Adhesion - A cohesive less material is where failure
occurs at the chute surface and hence owwill occur. For a cohe-
sive, material failure occurs internally within the material. Te
non owing material adheres to the chute surface and may build
up and nally cause the chute to block.
Hopper Half Angle - Te maximum half hopper angle associated
with the minimumopening for mass owto occur. An important
parameter to consider to ensure that a transfer chute containing
a surge storage on stopping fully loaded will be self cleaning.
Cohesive Bridging - Te minimum outlet dimension required to
prevent the formation of a cohesive arch across an opening
Time Enhancement of Contact Friction - Te increased strength of
the material when prolonged residence time occurs in a chute,
usually when loaded stops occur while in production.
Testing for Wall Friction - Tis is usually undertaken for a range of
sliding surfaces which are available. Te abrasiveness of the ma-
terial handled and the wear resistance of the sliding surface.
Table 1 illustrates the range of typical iron properties handled in
the industry. Obviously extremes can occur and selective test
work will identify dicult materials.
5 Chute & Lining Material
A chute is usually lined to facilitate, the replacement of the slid-
ing surfaces, increase time between replacements by increasing
the wear resistance of the sliding surface, and to assist ow and
avoid build up.
5.1 Wear to Chute Surfaces
5.1.1 Impact Wear
At the point a particle strikes a surface the impact wear is the
damage caused by the perpendicular component of the impact
Description Type I Type II Type III
Moisture [%] <5 >10 <5 <4 >12
Bulk Density [t/m
] 2.4 2.3 2.5 2.0 2.1
E. Internal Friction [] 55 65 50 45 60
Static Internal Friction [-] 45 55 40 40 50
Wall Friction [-] 38 38 34 30 25
Hopper Half Angle [] 15 12 13 22 17
0.3 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.25
Table 1: Typical iron ore properties
Belt Conveying
95 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
Belt Conveying
pact force. Te rate of wear depends on the hardness of the ma-
terial being handled and the wear resistance of the chute lining.
5.2 Lining Materials
In the iron ore industry the following lining materials have
been used; availability, cost and wear life of material should be
Mild Steel - for temporary use as a wear indicator.
Ni-Cr Tiles - these materials have a low Wear Index and was the
liner of rst choice for resisting abrasive wear.
Hard Facings Plate - the facings exhibit lowWear Index and intro-
duced to oset the higher costs of Ni-Cr tiles.
Synthetic Rubber - introduced in areas of direct impact where
there are perceived cost advantages over rockboxes.
6 Design of Transfer Points
Transfer Height - Te transfer station is a gravity ow device
which must have sucient height to allow ow at the required
capacity but not excessively high which wastes the power re-
quired to lift the material.
Transfer of Belt Cleanings - Belt cleanings are outside the main-
streamow, they occur at belt cleaning devices arranged around
the head pulley. Its classication and owability is dierent to
the mainstream ore and should be subject to separate testwork
on a collected sample..
Variation in Flow - Changes occur in the mainstream ow de-
pending on type of ore from the mined face, mine site and
region and additional moisture content e.g. due to dust sup-
Fig. 1: Early design Rock Box to Rock Box, dry material
Fig. 2: Early design Rock Box to Rock
Box, wet material
Fig. 3: Early design Impact Plate to
Rock Box, dry material
Fig. 4: Early design Impact Plate to
Rock Box, wet material
force. Materials such as rubber are most resistant to direct impact
and rockboxes where the resultant wear particles report to the
ow stream, and hence no replacement of surface is required.
5.1.2 Abrasive Wear
At the point of impact of a particle on a surface the abrasive
wear is the damage caused by the parallel component of the im-
96 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
Belt Conveying
Transitional Operation - Te starting and stopping of the loaded
belt varies the discharge trajectory. Te range is vertical to near
horizontal at high belt speed. Te transfer chute contains re-
tained material which on restart of the conveyors must com-
mence owing.
Other Considerations - Valley Angles and Corner Eects and Fil-
lets are details in the chute design to minimize the initiation of
build up material which may eventually cause chute blockage.
Discharge Trajectories - From the point at which the material
leaves the head pulley to the point of impact on the collecting
device e.g. rock box or impact plate.
Collecting the Flow- At the point of impact this device maybe a rock
box, a at impact plate either vertical or inclined or a curved plate.
Transferring the Flow - A series of sliding surfaces or free fall tra-
jectories which direct the mainstream ow to the discharge
Chute Capacity and Flow Velocity - Te ow rate through the
chute under gravity. At changes of direction and cross section
and impact points the velocity must be computed before chute
capacity can be determined.
Discharging the Flow - Collects the ow and directs the main-
stream ow onto the belt. It may be a rock box, a at inclined
plate or a curved chute.
7 Discussion
7.1 Early Transfer Chute Design
In the 1960s the iron ore was generally free owing, dusty and
abrasive and two concepts of transfer chute were considered a) a
rock box to rock box and b) an impact plate to rock box.
7.1.1 Rock box to Rock box
Figs. 1 and 2 show the typical arrangement. Te drop height of
material is 4 m belt line to beltline and the belt speed is in the
order of 3.0 m/s.
7.1.2 Impact Plate to Rock box
Figs. 3 and 4 show the typical arrangement. All other details are
as Figs. 1 and 2.
Tese arrangements were generally developed from a formalized
standard design and generally taken for granted with managea-
ble levels of maintenance undertaken at scheduled maintenance
times. Te exception was that the impact plate was subject to
excessive wear rates when handling primary and secondary
crushed ore and was superseded in some cases by the rock box
for these products.
7.2 Deterioration of Flowability Properties
During the late 1970s as the iron ore being handled was becom-
ing more moist with increases in dust suppression water, intro-
duction of beneciation plants and increasingly mining below
the water table. Te result was the ow properties changed for
the worse.
Te eect of these conditions is shown in Figs. 2 and 4 for the
typical transfer chute designs. Te obvious unwelcome change
was the build up in the lower rock box particularly when han-
dling Fine Ore. In addition for conveyors handling ne ore was
the appearance of the phenomenon of the so called rhino horn
particularly in the collecting rock box of Figs. 1 and 2.
7.3 Consideration to Improve Design
During the 1990s the problems of the typical transfer design were
aggravated by the opening up of dierent iron ore bodies notably
Fig. 5: Transfer chute design with
curved impact plate, dry
Fig. 6: Transfer chute design with
curved impact plate, wet
Fig. 7: Design with curved
impact plate for larger
drop heights
97 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
Belt Conveying
with markedly dierent owability properties particularly in the
Fine Ore product. In addition there was the need to increase ship
loading capacity with the obvious rst step being increased belt
conveying speed mainly for brown eld projects with modica-
tions to improve the existing transfer chute design.
Te collecting and discharging rock boxes in Figs. 1 and 2 were cut
back. Te design of Figs. 3 and 4 the impact plate was changed to a
curved impact plate and the lower discharging rock box cut back.
Te curved impact plate was introduced to improve the chute
capacity for major plant upgrades. Te eect of these changes
on the typical transfer chute with a curved impact plate is as
shown in Figs. 5 and 6. Te build up in the transfer chute with
rock boxes discharge boots require higher transfer stations but
for existing plants this can be at a very expensive cost.
Te design of the transfer stations was also revised for the newer
iron ore mines to handle the owability properties of these new
ore types. In general the height of the transfer station was in-
creased from 4 to 6 m with some installations at 7 m to assist
with handling the belt cleanings.
Te collecting device became more commonly the curved im-
pact plate and the discharging chute became a lined chute. A
typical design is shown in Fig. 7
7.4 Further Improvements are Required
In general the Fig. 7 design worked acceptably well on Fine Ore
minimizing bog outs and shutdowns during shiploading. How-
ever the down side is a marked by an increase in wear, in the
curved plate, the discharge chute and the conveyor belt. Mainte-
nance was required more often, requiring longer downtime and
hence the lowering of the availability of the conveying and han-
dling system.
Tis lower availability was made more critical when handling Lump
Ore, on dual product conveyors, and proved disastrous when in-
stalled on systems handling Secondary Crushed Ore with associ-
ated belt speed increases for increased production requirements.
Te application of curved impact plates and metal discharge
chutes has required increased investigations of chute wear and,
in particular, belt wear. To reduce belt wear the curved discharge
chute prove advantageous at the expense of chute wear but, is
justiable, on the basis of chute versus belt replacement costs,
particularly if the chute is designed for easier replacement in
scheduled shut down times.
A typical installation is shown in Figs. 8 to 13. Tis could be ad-
vantageous for loading primary crushed ore froman apron feeder
to a belt conveyor [8]. For handling Lump Ore, more work is re-
quired to correlate the abrasiveness of the handled material with
the abrasive index of the lining mate-
rial to optimize replacement times
and scheduled shut down periods.
8 Future Developments
8.1 Wear
With the introduction of transfer sta-
tions using curved receiving plates and
self cleaning discharge chutes, the loss
of production due to chute blockages
Epoch Description Figure Exit Velocity ABP
1960 Rock box/Rock box Fig. 1 (Dry) 2.78 2.75
Fig. 2 (Wet) 3.48 0.84
Flat Plate/Rock box Fig. 3 (Dry) 2.85 1.78
Fig. 4 (Wet) 4.24 2.80
1990 Curved Plate/Rock box Fig. 5 (Dry) 2.18 6.53
Fig. 6 (Wet) 2.94 15.8
2000 Curved Plate/Chute Fig. 7 4.55 54.37
Fig. 8: Feeder/curved plate design,
dry material
Fig. 9: Feeder/curved plate design,
wet material
Fig. 10: Feeder/at plate design,
dry material
Table 3: Hard rock discharge chute
98 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
Belt Conveying
has decreased. However there has been an increase in mainte-
nance to repair and/or replace chute linings. Tis increase requires
more time allocated for scheduled maintenance, decreasing avail-
able operating hours and also due to increased repair downtimes
an overall decrease in plant availability.
It is possible that the current changes in transfer chute design are
neutral with regard to actual annual production time. It is there-
fore very important to study the wear rate in conveyor belts and
chute linings as well as the operational design of transfer stations
to optimize annual productive operating hours.
8.2 Belt Wear
Belt replacement is the most expensive activity in terms of cost
of new belt, and downtime to replace belt. Te Abrasive Wear
Parameter (AWP) suggested by R [10] is used to produce
the comparative results in Table 2.
8.3 Chute Wear
Achute wear parameter is also suggested by R [10] but for
the examples of curved chutes considered in this article more
site observations and weight loss data is required before mean-
ingful comparisons would be useful for discussion.
8.4 Curved Discharge Chute in Hard Rock
Tere appears, on the face of it, a strong case to retrot
the type of chute shown in Figs. 8 to 13 in the iron ore
industry. However there has been some consideration
for primary crushed ore but, to date there is no known
installation that works satisfactorily. Chute blockages
both mechanical and cohesive being prevalent.
Aperusal of the possible applications shown in Figs. 8
to 13 suggests some of the following reasons and cal-
culation results are shown in Table 3.
In Fig. 8 the curved chute is restricted to an included
angle of 68 to 70 to ensure self cleaning hence the
main advantage to load the ow stream in the direction of the
belt is lost. Also top size rocks in primary and secondary crushed
ore do not follow the ow stream hence high impact on curved
discharge chutes and receiving belt particularly when segrega-
tion has occurred outside the control of the feeder.
Te at plate has similar disadvantages and height available re-
stricts the benets of a suitable at plate. Te rock box protects
the receiving belt most and top size rocks are cushioned before
discharge to the belt. However, the rock box increases the risk of
cohesive blockage and inability to self clean on restart.
8.5 Curved Impact Plate in Hard Rock
Tere is a preference to design this type of transfer chute shown
in Fig. 7 in the iron ore industry. However there has been some
consideration for secondary crushed ore but to date there is no
known installation that works satisfactorily.
Observations of existing applications on secondary crushed ore
suggest that the curved plate does not control the ow stream.
Te ow stream after impact is random with variable bounce
and resultant direction. Te eects are obvious with major wear
of components and excessive damage to supporting structure .
and enclosures. Te DEM method may indicate that this behav-
ior will occur and hence be a warning against installing curved
plates for this application.
Description Figure Exit Velocity ABP
Feeder/Curved Boot Fig. 8 (Dry) 3.57 20.17
Feeder/Flat Boot Fig. 10 (Dry) 6.15 13.36
Feeder/Rock box Fig. 12 (Dry) 2.09 3.72
Feeder/Curved Boot Fig. 9 (Wet) 2.37 12.76
Feeder/Flat Boot Fig. 11 (Wet) 6.36 13.22
Feeder/Rock box Fig. 13 (Wet) 3.43 0.62
Table 3: Hard rock discharge chute
Fig. 11: Feeder/at plate design,
wet material
Fig. 12: Feeder/rock box design,
dry material
Fig. 13: Feeder/rock box design,
wet material
99 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2
8elt Conveylng
9 Concluding Remarks
Clearly tbere ls rurtber work to be undertaken to lmprove tbe per-
rormance or curved and at lmpact plates to lmprove wear llre ror
botb lmpact and abraslve wear.
le computatlon metbods uslng tbe contlnuum tbeory allows
ror a ratlonal approacb to cbute deslgn to reduce belt wear rates.
|or exlstlng deslgns accurately determlnlng tbe exlt veloclty ror
varlous optlons or tbe proposed cbute modlcatlons wlll sbow
tbat tbere ls llttle benet to be obtalned wltb modlrylng tbe cbute.
lowever lt may be easler to reallze tbat lt could be very eectlve
to adjust belt speed to obtaln an lncrease ln belt llre.
ln general transrer cbute deslgn ls becomlng more objectlve but,
stlll remalns subjectlve. Notblng ls better tban experlence ln tbe
exerclse or good judgment. |or current deslgn practlce a good
starlng polnt ls 1tvtoa [4] and koara+s [!] a wlde range or ex-
perlence rrom !986 to z006 encapsulatlng 40 years experlence.
[!] rnikr, A.W.. Storage and Flow of Solids. 8ulletln No !z!
Unlverslty or Utab, Salt Lake Clty, !964.
[z] Aanoto, .C., Mctrtn, A.C. and koara+s, A.W.. Bulk Sol-
ids Storage, Flow and Handling. Unlverslty or Newcastle
kesearcb Assoclates (1UNkA) Ltd. Australla.
[!] koazrn, 7.. Te Dynamics of Bulk Solids Flow on Impact
Plates of Belt Conveyor Systems. bulk sollds bandllng vol.
8 (!988) No. 6, pp. 689 - 697.
[4] 1tvtoa, l... Guide to the Design of Transfer Chutes &
Chute Lining. le Mecbanlcal landllng Lnglneers Asso-
clatlon, !989.
[] Mt+on, A.L.. Experimental examination of friction fac-
tor inuence on power consumption for long overland
conveyors. MlL Aust 1ransactlons, vol. ML ! (!990)
No. !.
[6] Mt+on, A.L.. Te eects of Idler Alignment and Belt Prop-
erties on Conveyor Belt Power Consumption. bulk sollds
bandllng vol. !! (!99!) No. 4, pp. 80! - 80
[7] Mt+on, A.L.. Review of the eects of idler alignment and
belt properties on conveyor belt power consumption. bulk
94 deslgn semlnar, 8lackpool, Uk.
[8] Noaortt, L.k.. Palabora Installs Curved Transfer Chute in
Hard Rock to Minimize Belt Cover Wear. bulk sollds ban-
dllng vol. !4 (!994) No. 4, pp. 7!9 - 74!.
[9] Mt+on, A.L.. Power and capacity review of tubular pipe
and trough conveyors. bulk sollds bandllng vol. !7 (!997)
No. !, pp. 47 - 0.
[!0] koara+s, A.W. and Wicnr, S... Interrelation between Feed
Chute Geometry and Conveyor Belt Wear. bulk sollds ban-
dllng vol. !9 (!999) No. !, pp. ! - !9.
[!!] Mt+on, A.L.. Tubular pipe conveyor design, a review of
cross section and belt selection. bulk sollds bandllng vol.
z! (z00!) No. z., pp. !79 - !8z
[!z] Mt+on, A.L.. Te eects of idler selection on conveyor belt
power consumption. bulk sollds bandllng vol. zz (z00z)
No. !., pp. 46 - 49.
[!!] Mt+on, A.L.. Unit Train Loading Systems - Rail Wagon
Loading Times. bulk sollds bandllng vol. z4 (z004) No z.,
pp. 9z - 96.
[!4] Mt+on, A.L.. Unit Train Loading Systems - Reclaimer Selec-
tion and Wagon Weighing. bulk sollds bandllng vol. z4
(z004) No. !., pp. !7z - !77.
[!] koara+s, A.W. and Mc8aior, 8.. Chute Design Considera-
tions for Feeding and Transfer. 8ulkex z006 Melbourne,
A.E. Maton
Mr. 8ert Maton bas been ln tbe engl-
neerlng lndustry ror 0 years or wblcb
40 years bas been ln englneerlng
servlces to tbe mlnlng and mlnerals
processlng lndustry ln Western Australla. Mr. Maton
graduated durlng !974 ln Mecbanlcal Lnglneerlng at tbe
Western Australlan lnstltute or 1ecbnology. Servlces
bave been provlded ln project and deslgn englneerlng
ror a number or major developments and operatlng ra-
cllltles ln tbe lron ore, nlckel, bauxlte, coal and gold. ln
recent years Mr. Maton bas speclallsed ln mlnlng raclll-
tles rrom tbe kOM recelval, crusblng, screenlng, belt
conveylng, unlt traln loadlng and unloadlng, sblpplng
termlnal stockyards reclalmlng and sblploadlng.
Maton Lnglneerlng ty. Ltd.
Mr. Albert L. Maton
z0! keservolr koad, Orange Crove WA 6!06, Australla
1el.. ++6! (0) 8 94 977 04
|ax. ++6! (0) 8 94 z!4 96
About the Author
100 bulk solids handling Vol. 27 2007 No. 2