Transfer chute systems form an integral part of bulk materials handling applications, and it is important that they meet the specific requirements of individual mining houses, says Germiston-based material transfer solutions provider Weba Chute Systems technical director Alwin Nienaber.
Bulk materials handling is characteristically a costly facet of all mining or minerals processing applications and, while chute systems constitute the major part of bulk handling, they are often not given the required level of attention during the design stages of mining or minerals processing projects, he adds.
Owing to this inadequate planning, companies implement “inappropriate” chute systems, with these generally being inefficient and resulting in several operational issues, such as material blockages or the excessive spillage of materials. Nienaber warns that such operational issues cause unscheduled downtime, which could then cause a knock-on effect for a mining plant, owing to the associated costs.
He emphasises that these resulting operational issues necessitate the need for mining houses to have chutes designed that will suit their mining and mineral processing applications. Nienaber explains that this entails designing each transfer point so as to provide full control of the direction, flow and velocity of a calculated volume and type of material specific to each individual commodity and application.
In pursuing satisfactory chute systems, it is important to lead with a specialist original- equipment manufacturer (OEM), such as Weba Chute Systems, from the start of the design phase to ensure that the plant is properly designed, Nienaber asserts. The design is a pre-emptive measure to avoid having to replace chutes that do not correspond with the specific commodity and application requirements.
Nienaber says the company has had to replace high numbers of transfer chutes for a number of mining houses, which is a costly and time-consuming process. While Weba Chute Systems has been championing the importance and advantages of engineered transfer chutes, and the industry has begun to recognise their importance, there are still some users that are not yet aware of the latest trends and technology available, and this situation is exacerbated by those companies that supply inferior products.
Weba Chute Systems is well poised to offer optimised chute systems across the spectrum of mining commodities, with the company boasting extensive expertise in transfer chute design. The company has been active in the materials transfer solutions arena for more than 40 years, with more than 4 000 successful chute system installations globally for a variety of materials.
Weba Chute Systems provides custom-engineered chute systems that are designed to handle specific material throughput for an individual mining or minerals processing operation, with the design accounting for factors such as belt speed, belt width, material flow, material sizes, materials shapes and throughput.
Nienaber points out that working with Weba Chute Systems directly, in its capacity as an OEM, enables clients to access the benefits of the company’s expertise and experience.
For example, an initial incoming feed stream at a processing or mining plant needs to be divided to feed into two separate processing plants. The chute system for this would have to accommodate these specific requirements and, therefore, necessitates the engineering expertise for a custom design. Weba Chute Systems can design a solution that takes these factors into consideration, with the chute system subsequently equipped to handle this. An example would be using the best suited apparatus for splitting or diverting the material stream. This may include trolleys, fixed cones, diverter gates, knife-gates or radial gates. These can be automated and actuated using hydraulics, electromechanical, pneumatics or electrohydraulic actuators.
Nienaber notes that there is a misconception in the mining industry that custom-engineered chute systems are expensive; however, he refutes this by emphasising that a properly designed, correct chute system will actually save costs in the long term, as it negates the costs caused by the aforementioned issues.
Therefore, companies should opt for custom-engineered chute systems, as these will facilitate a reduction in maintenance require- ments, improvements in transfer conditions, a longer conveyor belt life and higher throughput, he concludes.