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Flame-resistant screen media innovation sparks safer mining

UNDER 60 SECONDS Multotec’s flame-resistant rubber screen panels self-extinguish in under 60 seconds

REDUCED RISK The panels on these screens significantly reduce the risk and consequences associated with fire incidents

3rd November 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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Hot work on screen decks during plant maintenance poses a significant risk, as fires in mining not only endanger lives, but also lead to substantial downtime and financial losses.

In response to this critical challenge, mineral processing equipment supplier Multotec has developed flame-resistant rubber screen panels that self-extinguish in under 60 seconds in instances that they catch alight.

The panels on these screens have been engineered to extinguish fires rapidly, significantly reducing the risk and consequences associated with combustion incidents, says Multotec screening product manager Shawn Faba.

He notes that, “what sets Multotec’s solution apart” is its ability to meet the strict safety requirements of the Australian mining industry, and the broader global applicability of the company’s products.

To make the rubber screen panels flame- resistant, Multotec modified the chemical composition of the standard raw materials by adding flame-resistant chemicals.

“By changing the chemical composition of a standard rubber compound to be flame- resistant, there is a small trade-off in terms of wear life of the rubber panels. The product provides an acceptable compromise with benefits that outweigh the negatives,” Faba says.

Moreover, he adds that there is ongoing research and development to optimise the compounds to meet specific customer requirements.

To ensure the reliability and safety of the flame-resistant rubber screen panels, the product has undergone rigorous testing under controlled laboratory conditions, certified accreditation trials, and real-world testing on mining sites.

Specific test results confirm that the flame-resistant panels meet stringent fire safety requirements, Faba says, adding that the flame-resistant screen panels can be used in all screening applications for a variety of duties, both wet and dry.

The adoption of Multotec’s flame-resistant rubber screen panels has a multitude of benefits for the mining industry. These panels not only significantly reduce the risk of fires, enhancing plant and staff safety, but also ensure that mining operations can continue uninterrupted. In an industry where downtime translates to substantial financial losses, this is a game-changer.

The panels are not limited to specific applications and can be effectively employed in various screening-related duties. They prove suitable for coal, iron-ore, copper, platinum, diamonds, manganese, zinc, and many other mining applications.

Multotec’s flame-resistant rubber screen panels are available in two variations: hard- (PD70) and soft- (PD45) durometer rubber.

The selection of panel hardness depends on the specific screening application, Faba says.

PD70 panels are typically used on top deck scalping screens, while PD45 soft panels are suited when high screening efficiency, particularly in terms of throughput, is required, he explains.

Australian Challenge

In Australia, where mining operations are tonnage-driven and follow structured maintenance campaigns, the risk of fires during plant maintenance has been a persistent challenge for iron-ore producers.

Fires, in general, can lead to costly unplanned downtime, jeopardising both safety and revenue.

Even a few hours of unexpected interruption can translate into losses running into millions of dollars, with fires bearing the potential to force the shutdown of entire mining modules for weeks at a time.

By effectively addressing the critical issue of fires during hot work on screen decks, Multotec’s panels not only protect lives, but also reduce instances of downtime, Faba says, highlighting the global applicability and versatility that make them an “invaluable” addition to mining operations worldwide.

“In an industry where every minute counts, and safety is paramount, our flame-resistant rubber screen panels offer a compelling solution that brings peace of mind and prosperity to the mining world,” he comments.

The company has recently launched the product and observed significant global interest, including strong traction within South Africa.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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