A 180-m-long, footwall- mounted chairlift system will be installed at gold miner Tau Lekoa Gold Mining Company’s mine near Orkney, in the North West, in January, to assist the mine with daily operations and enhance its safety.
Energy distribution, automation, communication, transportation and roof support manufacturer and supplier for underground mining infrastructure systems Becker Mining South Africa manufactured the chairlift, with the full scope of manufacturing – the mechanical and electrical components – done in-house at the company’s plant in Alrode, Gauteng.
Becker chairlifts product manager Anthony Labuschagne indicates that Becker received the order for the supply and installation of the new chairlift system in July and worked closely with mine management on the design, which adheres to the mine’s health and safety regulations.
The chairlift system will run between the 800 and 900 levels of the mine, operating at an inclination of 34º. A 22 kW streamline drive, boasting geometric precision for maximum use of balance and design strength, will be installed at the bottom of the decline.
Labuschagne indicates that this chairlift is superior to other chairlifts on the market, owing to its modern design, pedestal-mounted drive and return unit.
The chairlift system’s robust design, comprising the latest technology and manufacturing trends, enables it to meet the strict quality and safety regulations mandated by the mining industry.
The chairlift system, with its modular, low-maintenance attributes, is designed to transport up to 900 personnel an hour to all underground applications, which often includes difficult mining conditions – in this instance, heat, space and an inclination of 34º.
Compared with the old chairlift, Becker’s new system has a pull system that is more responsive in an emergency situation and a more user-friendly programmable logic controller.
Moreover, in an emergency situation, the chairlift system can be used to transport injured workers to the surface. The system boasts numerous safety features, including a rope slip sensor and fail- safe brake system that is spring-activated and hydraulically released on the drive-wheel brake path.
The system’s primary and secondary brakes can hold the entire out-of-balance load, which means more workers can be accommodated on the up side than the down side, or vice versa. It also encompasses other critical safety devices, the most important of which are the passenger override sensor and an intelligent pull-key system. The system can be operated using diesel-driven generator sets, which ensures that the chairlift can continue to operate in the event of power outages at the mine, thereby continuing to assure safety.
Labuschagne informs Mining Weekly that installing chairlifts in underground operations always poses challenges, owing to the inherent factors of such environments. During this particular installation, Becker will have to contend with heat, as well as the 34º inclination.
Once installed and operational, the chairlift will have a positive effect on mine personnel, as it will allow for the safe and speedy transportation of workers from one level to another, subsequently creating a positive mindset and improving the overall productivity and operation of the mine, says Labuschagne.