Boosting Profit Through Cost-EfficiencyThu, 10/17/2019 - 13:26
Because mines often present extreme environments for machinery, OEMs continuously pursue the development of higher-quality standards for their products. However, better materials are often associated with higher investments. “Mines need to constantly balance production costs and ore value for operations to be profitable, and sometimes the ore value does not justify the cost,” says Hector Ruiz, Technical Manager at Astralloy, which offers anti-abrasive and industrial steel solutions with applications in a variety of industries, including mining.
Ruiz says a strong initial investment in stronger steel, however, often results in long-term savings for companies. “Variable costs represent 90 percent of a mine’s expenditures,” he says. Materials encountered by mining machinery tend to be highly abrasive, making resistant steel a highly desired feature. Decreasing the frequency of part replacements saves costs in maintenance and downtime. One of the main reasons for mining equipment failure is the fatigue of material, Ruiz adds.
Constituted primarily by steel, mining equipment degrades as a result of its interaction with different types of rock, soil and abrasive materials. Designed to operate on a 24/7 basis, some pieces of equipment are subject to 200 impacts per minute. The repetitive impact of particles against the equipment’s surface gradually removes material from its outermost layers. The erosion rate of steel used in mining operations depends on the metal’s properties and on the hardness of the particles it interacts with, says Ruiz.