Improper conveyor practices in the mining industry cause 4% of overall fatalities, and result from a lack of knowledge on the equipment’s operation and an inability to identify potential hazards, says industry association Conveyor Manufacturers Association (CMA) of South Africa.
To help counter this problem, the CMA presents safety presentations at various forums, including the Association of Mine Resident Engineers, the South African Colliery Engineers Association and the Mpumalanga Underground Coal Regional Tripartite Forum.
These training sessions also assist with issues being faced in the mining belt conveyor industry. The CMA also publishes continuously updated belt conveyor operation and safety guidelines on its website.
“Health and safety has always been the number one priority, with every mine aiming to achieve a 0% fatality rate. The CMA strives to continuously develop skills and knowledge relating to belt conveyor operation excellence and safety,” avers CMA chairperson Jay Pillay.
He adds that CMA members have opportunities on a bimonthly basis to present new information or case studies on the conveyor industry. The CMA also has a joint forum with the South African Institute of Materials Handling, held yearly, providing technical presentations on new developments and guidelines.
Training in Motion
The CMA presents various courses to aid and upskill mines in proper conveyor use and practices. These courses include a diploma, which equips participants with the know-how needed to undertake calculations to determine conveyor belt tension and power requirements, as well as the belt class for the application and belt tensioning system criteria.
This course’s curriculum also includes pulley and idler selection, and guidance on catalogue selection of motors, geared reducers and couplings, which are vital to ensure efficient operation and safety.
“The diploma course intends to give insight to engineers with little or no knowledge on conveyors, with regard to their operation and the design of various components,” explains Pillay.
He adds that participants will be able to solve common problems associated with conveyor equipment, becoming aware of certain pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Ideal candidates for this course include newly graduated mechanical engineers and technicians, draughtsmen and mining operators engaged in the industry.
The diploma course, which is Engineering Council of South Africa accredited, runs over five days, with participants attending lectures, undertaking site visits and sitting for examinations.
The course had 14 participants in October last year, of which four received distinctions, and eight candidates in May, when three obtained distinctions.
Additionally, the CMA presents a certificate training course, which familiarises participants with conveyors and is intended for artisans, draughtsmen, junior engineers, sales executives, apprentices and technicians working in a conveyor-operated environment.
This comprehensive course runs over three days and overviews operating procedures, components in key areas, tracking and training belts theory, and electrical and safety issues, as well as maintenance issues, belt splicing, tracking and inspection.
Other topics covered in the course are conveyor types, components, belt materials, design basics, belt speed, width and class, carcass types, idlers, pulleys, scrapers and ploughs, couplings, motors, gears, bearings and plummer blocks.
This course had 19 participants in June, with a 100% pass rate, and 27 students in July.
Pillay points out that mine sites often take a “run until it breaks” approach when it comes to conveyor equipment, which has expensive downtime implications and poses risks to staff safety.
“It is essential that staff are adequately skilled in terms of their specific func- tion on site,” he says, adding that the CMA also presents courses on single-particle chute design, belt splicing and couplings.