Search Stories by: 
&/or
 

Maintenance, Tips & Advice, Management

Articles from EDUCATION & TRAINING (304 Articles), PLANT DESIGN (104 Articles)

Due to the pressures of maintaining quarry plant, with abrasive feed and high volumes and extended periods of production, maintaining equipment can be a challenge. Image courtesy of Holcim.
Due to the pressures of maintaining quarry plant, with abrasive feed and high volumes and extended periods of production, maintaining equipment can be a challenge. Image courtesy of Holcim.
 










Are our quarries running the way they should be?

As safety, environmental and sustainability pressures continue to be exerted on quarries, quarry optimisation is becoming an imperative, argues Michael van Koeverden.
Quarries are a vital part of our economy and construction industry, yet inefficiencies that creep in through inherited plant, equipment, resistance to change and fear of spending capital undoubtedly cost the industry money. Some operations built around consistent, high quality deposits struggle to make money while others seem to dominate a market, despite variable or poor geology throughout.

Of course, the success of a quarry is affected by a whole range of things including management, sales team, market and much more, but the influence of the quarry plant is often not put under as much scrutiny as it should. As a result we see the same issues occurring repeatedly in variable quality of quarry products and an unbalanced split of saleable to unsaleable products.

The real costs of dealing with dead or zero stock value quarry material are often not reflected in operating statements, as stock capping may impart a cost to the operation but not provide a solution to reducing or stopping this happening now or in the future.

Costs may be not just financial, as a poor production split may see premium material sitting in an unwanted stockpile because we need more 10mm aggregate and have to make lots of 20mm to get it. This is not optimising our deposits and we must remember how precious they are.

It is difficult, expensive and drawn out to establish new quarry operations today; they form an essential part of our economy and we have a duty to our community to get the best we can with minimum wastage.

Every change in management often means a change in strategic direction and this may end up as changes in maintenance cycles, plant shutdowns, plant and equipment selection and utilisation. This may not result in optimal use of equipment and processes, as experiences gained from working with other deposits always has an influence.

So how can we gain the required process improvements in our quarries while still maintaining what our customers want in competitive markets?

Strategic, targeted auditing and analysis of what our plant is doing is seen as a powerful way of reviewing what we are doing. In any operation, things will always drift away from optimal, especially when dealing with natural products. Reviewing our quarry plant is a cost-effective way to ensure we are making what we think we should be making and doing it as efficiently as we can.

Due to the pressures of maintaining quarry plant, with abrasive feed and high volumes and extended periods of production, maintaining equipment can be a challenge. Image courtesy of Holcim.
Due to the pressures of maintaining quarry plant, with abrasive feed and high volumes and extended periods of production, maintaining equipment can be a challenge. Image courtesy of Holcim.


OPTIMISING YOUR QUARRY

How do you optimise your quarry? To really understand your quarry you need to break it into smaller sections for analysis, while not losing focus on the part each section plays in the success of the whole operation.

For example, you would need to focus on the key processes within the quarry operation and ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are we still working to our approved mining plan or have we strayed? What are the implications in the short and long term of us working outside our plan?
  • Have we effectively sterilised source material because we haven’t removed it and neighbours have moved in? Are we working within our environmental impact statement and development conditions, and if not, what are the implications to our quarry in the short and long term?
  • What is the effectiveness of our winning of feed material, eg drill and blast, etc?
  • What is the effective yield of feed material to waste, how is it measured, and how is feed and waste handled?
  • Can we save fuel and time in the load and haul of won feed material to the processing plant(s)?
  • Each stage of crushing and screening should be analysed. How should each stage relate to the overall plant production aims and outputs?
  • What is our current split of quarry products? Does it satisfy our clients’ needs? Do we have excess stock? If so, what products are we spending money to make that our market does not want?

The same questions apply to hard rock, sand, gravel or any other deposits, eg how are we addressing these issues and often the additional environmental pressures from river or beach extraction, water rights, wash tailings management, etc?

Due to the commercial pressures of maintaining quarry plant, with abrasive feed and high volumes and extended periods of production, finding and maintaining equipment can be a challenge at times. To this end, it is common for companies to transfer equipment from one operation to another to save money on new acquisitions.

This means that some quarries end up with crushers and screens that may not be ideal for their operation as they have been set up for the previous deposit and the quarry management are left to sort this out with their suppliers. While this process may save on capital outlay, the slow leak of money wasted, due to inefficiencies, may never really be measured or fully understood.

The processes and procedures in quarry production are getting more complicated as safety, environmental and sustainability pressures are exerted on our quarries, focused now through the carbon footprint and embodied energy of each quarry operation.

As our quarries grow older, if we continue to use the same production techniques from the past, compliance with new requirements may in some cases get further away. By regular focused operational audits, the real inefficiencies within a quarry operation can be documented and the issues addressed one at a time.

To address questions about our quarries, we need to understand our operations. We need to know our plant bottlenecks and weaknesses so we can implement plans to improve on these efficiencies. We need to know what our team can do in-house, what our suppliers can do for us and when to seek specialist help.

Advice from professionals may provide immediate results as well as long term profit by ensuring product quality is established and maintained. Quarry optimisation is all about understanding the problems you have, formulating a structured plan to fix them, and providing support and training to staff to ensure improvement.

The quarry industry is a vital part of our economy and community, a large employer of people and generates products essential to our way of life. As we move further into the 21st century, we will see more focus on cost efficiencies, carbon footprint and sustainability.

Are all our quarries ready for a new level of optimisation? If we’re not, we should be asking ourselves how we can improve our quarries’ efficiency now.

Michael van Koeverden is a director of Engineered Material Solutions, which provides professional advice in quarry, concrete and mining materials. Visit www.quarryconsultants.com.au









enewsletter banner 3
advertisement








Monday, 16 September, 2019 8:35am
login to my account
Username: Password:
Skyscraper 1
advertisement
Free Sign Up

Receive FREE newsletter and alerts


CONNECT WITH US
Display 2
advertisement
Skyscraper 2
advertisement