Conveyor Belts Unsung Heroes of Mining OperationsWed, 10/21/2015 - 17:51
Without conveyor belts, the transportation of extracted minerals from mines to processing plants would be an expensive and arduous process. It may not seem that conveyor belts are suited to much innovation but that would be unfair to them. Over the years, commercial conveyor belt systems were backed up with specific systems designed to withstand harsh conditions in mining operations. These systems can withstand fire, abrasion, impact, and cutting, and service practically any type of mining operation around the world. One of the main distributors of these solutions in Mexico is GGD Bandas y Servicios (GGD), a product and service provider based in Mexico City with presence in the main mining regions of Mexico. “Our strategy is to come into the market with cutting-edge products. We distribute the entire system, from pulleys and rollers, to cleaning mechanisms, alignment systems, and the belts themselves. We deal only with leading brands, because we know that if the product fails, we fail,” shares Agustin Monzon Garcia, Director General of GGD Bandas y Servicios
Although GGD does not produce the major belt systems it offers to its clients, it is certified by its suppliers and benefits from meeting the ISO 9001:2008 standard. This has allowed the company to deliver specialized technical support in the design, installation, and maintenance of conveyor belt systems, as well as guarantee quality in all of its processes. “Most of our conveyor belts come from abroad, allowing us to focus on the design of the system, the installation, and preventive maintenance. We carry out technical evaluations, standardize the use of materials, and recommend a maintenance program for the system,” says Monzon Garcia. In fact, many mining companies now opt to outsource their entire conveyor belt needs to the likes of GGD.
GGD has been in the conveyor belt business for 15 years and works directly with the factories of its suppliers as well as providing on-site support from certified personnel. This is how the company has been able to work with large mining corporations such as Grupo Mexico. To ensure that the company meets the demands of its clients, it has personnel constantly on the field doing maintenance and providing support to mine operators. One of the company’s strengths is its ability to thoroughly analyze conveyer belt systems at clients’ facilities in order to identify maintenance needs, training programs, and technical support. GGD is also able to service its clients with belt replacements as it stocks more than 50,000m of conveyor belts in its warehouses, in addition to a wider array of products. “When Mexico had a closed economy, there were few options in terms of products. Now, there are a wide range of solutions for different applications from suppliers in Europe, Asia, and the US.”
In order to stay ahead of the game, GGD Bandas is looking to grow by representing Depreux, a French company owned by the COBRA group, which has roots in the textile industry and designs its own textiles for conveyer belt applications. “70% of the life of a belt depends on the resistance of the textile, which is the material that carries the tension and is subjected to impacts and harsh environmental conditions,” says Monzon Garcia. We are currently in the testing phase of Depreux products with Grupo Acerero del Norte (GAN), Grupo Mexico, and Minera Frisco, and we have achieved good results thus far.” Monzon Garcia explains that the Depreux production facility can provide conveyor belts with very specific characteristics, a flexibility that could not be attained by a larger belt producer with strict production standards. For the application of the Depreux solutions, GGD is working in Mexico’s main coal region of Coahuila to replace rubber belts with PVC belts, which, according to Monzon Garcia, increase the safety of workers in the mines. “Rubber is fire retardant, which means it generates combustion and CO2 when a fire breaks out. This can lead to fatalities in underground mine accidents since oxygen is consumed by the combustion,” he says. “Though PVC is not fireresistant, it does not generate combustion.” Monzon Garcia expresses his concern about the lack of regulation for conveyor belts in Mexico and mentions that in light of this, GGD follows American and German regulations to ensure the safety of its products.
Monzon Garcia is also confident that, in the near future, companies in Mexico will value the cost-benefit aspect of a product rather than the price. For now, GGD will continue to focus on the large mining groups that do understand the added value of its products and services. “We are a company with a vision for the future, and even though we are undergoing hard years in terms of sales, we are generating market strategies based on location, services, and product quality. All of this is so we may, in the short term, become the leading distributor of conveyor belts in Mexico”. In the medium term, the company is seeking to develop the necessary engineering facilities for the production of its own conveyer belt systems and will aim to expand to Central America and the Caribbean in the long term.