Fuel and lubricants are the lifeblood of the mining industry. Every part of the industry relies on it to keep moving says Endress+Hauser.

However, they can be among a mine’s biggest expense and as modern industries cannot operate without it, and as diesel costs continue to slowly rise, companies want to get the most out of what they pay for.

In this light, Endress+Hauser offers various fuel optimisation solutions for mine sites.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 6, 2019
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The way in which a mine purchases, stores, manages and uses fuels and lubricants can make an enormous difference to their bottom line.

Effective fuel and lubricant management can help mines reduce their operating costs, increase their productivity and reduce risks.

When it comes to large mining vehicles they quite easily consume large volumes of fuel.

For instance, a mining haul truck’s average consumption rate, on the normal gradients of 10% found on a mine haul road, with a typical payload of 182 t goes through approximately 350 ℓ of diesel fuel an hour which goes up dramatically if drivers speed or put the vehicle under undue stress.

Thus, a Cat 793F mining truck with a fuel tank capacity of 2839 ℓ will operate for approximately eight hours before it needs to be re-fuelled.

Mines manage large fleets of vehicles and the effective management of these fleets of vehicles not only needs to be cost effective but plays an important role in the safe transportation of both mine workers and mining materials.

Fuel usage represents one of the largest operating costs in the mining industry, it is rarely monitored or controlled effectively.

Mining companies can lose several days of production and hundreds of thousands of rands while waiting for fuel to be delivered to their site, depending on the operation’s remoteness.

As such, many mine sites require fuels and lubricant bulk storage as not to halt any mine operations. Monitoring of fuel inventories, purchases and usage helps mine management make better-informed decisions that will increase mobile asset performance, reduce fuel consumption and losses, and improve overall profitability of the mine.

Endress+Hauser offers various solutions for mine sites.

When it comes to fuels handling there are normally disagreements between the supplier of fuels and the mine. This disagreement can vary from descriptiveness between the volume of fuel that was transferred to the quality of fuel (i.e. watered down fuel).

Improved accuracy rate

With the current diesel price sitting around R14.48 a litre, a typical mechanical flowmeter used by most fuel suppliers has an accuracy of 0.5%. So, if a fuel tanker holding 50 000 ℓ of fuel is sold to a mine site there could be an inaccuracy of 2500 ℓ which equates to possible loss of R36 200.

Endress+Hauser’s loading metering skids has a Coriolis flowmeter which boasts an accuracy of 0.1%. The Coriolis flowmeter also has a special density calibration as to compensate for varying fluids.

This function assists in identifying if a fuel is potentially watered down, as the density of diesel should be at 0.832 kg/ℓ. The complete loading metering system consisting of all equipment has an accuracy of 0.25%. This halves a site measuring inaccuracies.

Once the fuel is onsite it needs to be stored, this requires accurate inventory management. A mine site can have several fuel storage tanks onsite with varying capacities.

In an ever-changing environment where a wealth of data is required to make informative decisions, mines often still lack the right information. For effective decision-making, the availability of high-quality online and real-time data is essential. Simple monitoring and visualisation is required to effectively make informative decision about the management of fuel onsite.

Endress+Hauser offers an inventory management solution with accurate, safe and reliable measurement through high-quality products designed together with our customers to meet their requirements more precisely.

The inventory management solution includes a level measurement that can use a Servo Gauge (Endress+Hauser Proservo NMS80). This device has an accuracy of 0.4 mm. The inventory management solution also includes a temperature measurement (Endress+Hauser Prothermo NMT 530).

This device is unique as it is a temperature compensation measurement with multiple temperature measurement across the entire height of a tank. This device has a water bottom probe that detects water in a fuel storage tank.

The importance of safety

Safety is an important issue at many mining sites. Handling of fuels incorrectly on sites can cause harm to the environment, especially if tanks are over-filled and there is spillage.

This doesn’t only cause harm to the environment but can also potentially cause harm to individuals. Endress+Hauser offers a complete overfill prevention solution which is certified by independent, global operating safety experts.

It is the best-in-class safety compliant solution (according IEC 61511). An automated proof test guarantees that the safety instrumented system functions perfectly. Proof-testing of 16 tanks takes less than five minutes.

The solutions mentioned forms an integral part in decision making with regards to effective fuel management. The load metering solution assist with accurate metering as well as quality when it comes to identifying water in fuels.

The inventory management solution assists with effective fuel storage management and the overfill prevention system assists with the safety around fuels handling.