Mining operations have always been challenging yet rewarding endeavors. As technology evolves and environmental concerns grow, mining companies must find new, innovative and alternative mining methods to support or, in some cases, replace traditional drill and blast methods.
Surface miners, such as the Vermeer Terrain Leveler® surface excavation machines (SEMs), have gained attention in recent years for their potential to transform the mining industry. These machines offer several advantages, including efficiency and productivity, as well as minimized environmental impact when compared to some traditional mining methods.
Here’s how surface miners can enhance your mine plan:
1. Boost efficiency and productivity
Surface miners offer superior efficiency in extracting minerals and materials compared to traditional drilling and blasting methods. Equipped with advanced cutting technology, these machines can precisely extract the desired material, minimizing waste and helping increase productivity.
According to Mike Selover, corporate accounts manager for mining equipment at Vermeer, surface miners are changing the way mining operations are carried out. They provide a unique method for extracting materials, allowing miners to visually select and remove unwanted materials. This process improves the purity of the minerals they mine to a degree that was previously unattainable.
2. Precision and selective extraction
Surface miners enable precise and selective material extraction, allowing mine planners to target specific ore bodies or minerals. Using GPS control, miners can accurately mine specific seams or layers, minimizing dilution and maximizing the quality of the extracted material.
According to Selover, “Selective mining using GPS control can be used to mine specific ore bodies, such as rare earth element seams. By avoiding unnecessary material extraction, mines are able to extract higher-purity products.”
3. Offer flexible mine planning
Integrating surface miners into your mine plan provides adaptability to changing mining conditions. These machines can be easily incorporated into existing mining operations, allowing for expansion or adding new pits without creating additional demands on primary crushers. This flexibility enables mine planners to respond quickly to market demands and optimize production.
“Surface miners are a valuable addition to mining operations, especially in expanding existing mines,” Selover explained. “By integrating surface miners and front-end loaders, mine planners can expand the mine plan without major equipment or infrastructure changes.”
4. Accelerate revenue generation
One unique advantage of including surface miners in your mine plan is the potential for early revenue generation. In situations where the primary crusher installation may take a significant amount of time, surface miners can start the mining process and generate revenue before the crusher is operational. This early revenue can help offset initial investment costs of the mining operation.
Selover provided an example, “In Australia, several Vermeer surface miners were commissioned at an iron ore mine that was waiting for the primary crusher to be installed. This allowed the mine to generate revenue early on and recover startup costs before the crusher was operational.”
5. Create economic efficiencies
Surface miners offer significant economic advantages in various aspects of mining operations. They eliminate the costs associated with purchasing, handling and storing explosives. As a result, less work is required to maintain straight mine walls and smooth haul roads. Additionally, these machines can help reduce the overall volume of equipment required on a mine site and the amount of work subcontracted to other companies.
6. Garner community support
Another advantage of using surface miners in mining operations is that they can help mines become better neighbors to surrounding communities affected by urban encroachment. Traditional drilling and blasting methods can cause seismic blast shockwaves and dust clouds that may disrupt neighbors and business parks. By using surface miners, mines can provide a less disruptive alternative. These machines produce less dust and noise and cause minimal vibration, making them an ideal solution for being a better neighbor.
Unlocking your mine’s potential
Incorporating surface miners into your mine plan can bring numerous benefits that can enhance your mining operations. Surface miners can boost efficiency and productivity, support mine safety, enable precision and selective material extraction, provide flexibility in mine planning and accelerate revenue generation. By adopting this innovative technology, mine planners can optimize their mining operations’ productivity.
“Surface miners bring about a paradigm shift in mining operations, enabling a much more unique approach to material extraction. By incorporating surface miners into a mine plan, companies can unlock a multitude of benefits and stay ahead in the ever-evolving mining industry,” Selover concluded.
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