Platinum group metals (PGMs) strata present some of the most unforgiving digging conditions imaginable for earthmoving equipment attachments, says earthmoving mining equipment and attachments expert VR Steel GM Dr Justin Martens.
“It drains the protective ‘life force’ of the digging tools at an unprecedented rate, often reducing equipment to worn and battered shells in a fraction of the time, compared with other mine environments.”
VR is an ongoing supplier of services, spares, repairs and capital projects to major PGMs mining operators.
Recent projects have involved refurbishing heavy-duty mining attachments, replacing or upgrading spare parts to site equipment
, supplying next-generation mining attachments to increase payload production and generally lower life-cycle operating costs, in addition to consultation services comprising fault finding, business improvement or metrology.
Delivering projects of this magnitude and complexity is rarely without challenges, since materials and parts are procured globally, with coordination requiring proactivity and the capacity to rapidly change plans before construction starts.
Martens says VR has had to “adapt or die” at an extraordinary pace while it continued to service its clients amid Covid-19.
The pandemic will be a defining period for almost all facets of the global economy, as it will continue to suck in businesses and spit them out either far leaner and more efficient, or dead.”
The wear-resistant, high-strength steels in the Hardox range from Swedish steel mill SSAB play an integral role in VR’s ability to produce designs that offer metronomic consistency, are malleable from a bending perspective, have exceptional weldability and provide superior impact properties that enable them to withstand extreme punishment in the PGMs playground, says Martens.
“Our technical team is extremely discerning and continues to use the Hardox range as their benchmark when evaluating market alternatives.”
At a mining operation, the goal is to reduce downtime, lower maintenance costs and boost productivity. Any gains in payload can be lost to unscheduled downtime if the steel used to fabricate earthmoving equipment wears before the attachment requires servicing.
“Sections of equipment that come into contact with the ground and are subject to sliding abrasion are usually made from Hardox, while moving parts and pinned positions are generally made from Strenx,” says Martens.
Hardox wear steel can be bent and formed to greater limits than other steel offerings. Welding can be carried out with relative ease when the rules are obeyed, and cold cracks are avoided.
VR attributes the achievement of major productivity gains to the use of Hardox 450 and other grades, along with membership of the Hardox In My Body programme.
VR designs, manufactures and repairs rigid dump truck trays and loading attachments such as dragline buckets, hydraulic face shovel buckets, hydraulic excavator buckets, rope shovel dippers and dragline shoes, as well as load, haul, dump truck buckets.
The mining attachments manufacturer’s equipment is in use at some of the biggest openpit mines in the world.