Transfer points don’t need to be high maintenance areas on a mine anymore. This is according to Mark Baller, MD of Weba Chute Systems, who says the solution to reducing maintenance costs on transfer points is simple.
“More often than not this issue is addressed by looking at new materials handling solutions, including the use of sophisticated lining composite materials which can be extremely expensive,” Baller says. “The solution does not have to be that complicated and as soon as engineers realise this they could save money on maintenance.”
Baller explains that the Weba Chute System is not an alternative to conventional chute systems. “It is, in fact, a completely different engineered approach with a “supertube” or “cascade” scenario that sees 95% of the material running on material at the same time.
“Some engineers may be familiar with the term “boundary layer”, which is used in aero and fluid dynamics. When a boundary layer is in place friction can be reduced by up to 30%,” he says.
When viewed in slow motion it becomes apparent that the particles close to the surface actually move in a tumbling motion and are, in fact, moving slower than the main flow of material. Baller explains that sliding particles moving at higher velocities cause extensive wear, while those that tumble at a lower velocity cause far less wear.
“Controlling the material’s movement through the transfer point is only the first step,” Baller explains. “By changing the angle of the transfer point, the material can be controlled from its entry into the chute right up until the point of discharge.”
This optimal control of the material during its journey through the transfer point not only reduces wear, but can eliminate spillage. Spillage can be a major cost issue, both in terms of waste and when it comes to cleaning up the area around the transfer point.
Baller says that on a new transfer point it is actually possible to completely eliminate spillage, and on projects where Weba Chute Systems are retrofitted into existing installations, it is possible to significantly reduce the spillage. This also results in substantial savings for the mine.
Weba Chute Systems currently services six different continents, mainly from its manufacturing facility in South Africa, with distributors and agents in most regions. The company holds ISO 9001:2008 accreditation, and quality manufacture forms an important part of the process.
Weba Chute Systems says there are over 4 000 successful transfer chute and system installations throughout the world handling a variety of different materials.