Richard Booth
Managing Director for North and South America
MMD Mineral Sizing Central America
View from the Top

Global Mining Going Green

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 11:05

Q: How is global mining changing and what is your perception of the state of the industry in Mexico?
A: Global mining is increasingly recognizing the need for greener mining. For four decades, our goal has been to provide equipment and solutions that reduce or eliminate the need for trucks. We are developing technology that revolves around truckless mines and our equipment also enables operations to become more effective and efficient. So far, we are experiencing a lot of success, especially in South America. We specialize in large equipment for mass mining operations. The South American mining industry is growing a lot faster than in Mexico. The country has fewer big mines in comparison to the mass operations in Chile. Mexico still has a large number of small mines that often produce about 4,000t/h. The Mexican market is not difficult to break into but there is still a lot of uncertainty over the impact of the 2018 presidential elections.
Q: What strategies are you implementing to overcome resistance in the Mexican mining industry to new solutions and technologies?
A: The resistance often comes down to a simple lack of knowledge or perceived higher cost of new technologies. While CAPEX costs might be slightly higher in some cases, OPEX rates are often vastly reduced, and performance increases result in favorable ROI figures. We are now going above and beyond by connecting our customers to external financial support where CAPEX cost is the barrier. We are a highly-specialized business, but we take time to retain a presence at the top mining exhibitions and conferences, enabling customers to learn more, and ask questions about the company and our technology. Our global experience allows us to go to mines that nobody else is willing to work in, which helps cement our reputation in Mexico.
Q: What is the future for In-Pit Sizing and Conveying (IPSC) systems in Mexico and how are mine operators responding to this technology?
A: Our flagship Fully Mobile Sizer, which sits at the heart of our largest IPSC system, can process 9,000t/h of overburden, with peaks of 14,000t/h demonstrated, and transports material away via a conveyor network. However, for open-pit mines, where conveyor installation is impractical or cost-prohibitive, operators can still make use of their existing truck fleet while enjoying the benefits of continuous mining. MMD’s latest design, the Fully Mobile Surge Loader (FMSL), is set to eliminate inefficient truck-shovel operations. A shovel’s utilization is sometimes only 60–70 percent of what it could be, as it has to wait for trucks to return and spot. The Surge Loader is positioned between the shovel and haul trucks, so the shovel operator can continue stockpiling material into the receiving hopper. The Surge Loader’s feeder unit loads trucks faster than when they are fed directly by the shovel in an automated start/stop method. This ensures each truck is hauling at maximum capacity. Trucks no longer need to reverse into position, thus cutting shovel waiting time. With a full hopper on the Surge Loader, the shovel can reposition without stopping truck loading. MMD’s simulations have demonstrated the ability to increase shovel utilization to nearly 95 percent, and that more material can be moved with the same number or fewer trucks needed to maintain the same level of production.
Q: How does MMD contribute to increasing safety in mining?
A: I believe the biggest problem is that mines try to cut costs excessively. Sometimes the highest cost in an operation is personnel, due to the number of people needed but also the impact unions can have on production. With the FMSL, autonomous or semi-autonomous trucks are spotted using the latest 3D cameras and RFID sensors to assist accurate truck alignment. Our goal is to ensure the FMSL can be controlled by a single shovel operator. With personnel reduced and autonomous trucks introduced, site safety is greatly increased.