Cold-cutting techniques are often employed for the demolition of large, redundant structures at mining facilities. Here large, encumbered structures are often beyond reach of conventional demolition equipment, and require the use of specialised equipment capable of reaching to greater heights safely, says demolition contractor Jet Demolition project engineer Andre Botes.
He emphasises that cold-cutting technology greatly reduces the risk of accidental fire – a critical factor in large, expansive facilities often located in greenfield areas.
The risk of fire means that conventional demolition methods are not always suited to the mining industry. Dust-explosion danger zones are prominent at larger facilities, especially in the presence of large silos. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that a zero-flame approach is used where possible, at least until such time that the dust-explosion risk is mitigated.
“We focus on a customer’s specific needs, and develop equipment as required for an application. These might be the conversion of current shears, steel-handling equipment for larger equipment, or modification to buckets to ensure zero ignition when excavating highly contaminated soil,” adds Botes.
“Our state-of-the-art cold-cutting equipment means that we can carry out demolition work in the most volatile environments without impacting on our clients’ operational processes, which is critical in terms of downtime and productivity,” Botes says.
The equipment and methodology pioneered by Jet Demolition has the added ‘green’ benefit of limiting the generally unavoidable incidental contamination of natural resources caused by less advanced techniques.
Botes further highlights that the greatest risk in demolition is gravity, both in terms of falling objects, and falling from heights. Therefore, it is essential to mechanise as best as possible, and effectively separate workers from risk. By virtue of the nature of cold cutting, this risk can be reduced dramatically, he explains.
“Tall structures can be approached safely using high-reach demolition excavators fitted with shears, and large sections or scrap can be handled mechanically. Mining facilities with crushing facilities typically have large stockpiles, further posing engulfment risks. By using extended-reach equipment, workers are again separated from risk.”
In addition to the practical, operational, and safety benefits of employing cold-cutting techniques, there is also a marked environmental benefit. Increased use of shearing and cold cutting reduces flame and gas cutting dramatically, with less harmful emissions.
Jet Demolition has effectively pioneered cold-cutting technology in South Africa.
“We have been in the demolition industry for just short of 30 years. Our experience and highly technical approach towards all demolition work is what make us a leader in the demolition industry,” Botes concludes.