Improving Mining Critical Asset Performance

by | Mar 26, 2021 | Asset Management, Metals, Mining, Minerals

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

In an earlier post, Condition Monitoring of Critical Mining Conveyors, we discussed the importance of conveyor reliability in mining operations. But it’s not just conveyors. The most common cause of downtime in mining operations is critical equipment failure. These failures can cause safety risks to personnel, unplanned downtime, and reactive maintenance practices to try to quickly return to normal operations.

To drive improvements in safety and reliability, it’s important to get real-time insight in the health of the critical mining assets. Not only can additional sensors provide early indication of asset performance issues, the use of preconfigured applications that use machine learning algorithms to continuously analyze process data and condition-based data can alert decision makers to act before failures occur.

This actionable information helps to avoid critical asset failure, reduce production losses, increase maintenance efficiency, reduce logistics and maintenance costs, and improve overall productivity of these critical assets and staff.

Beyond conveyors, continuous condition monitoring can improve performance for electric shovels, chute automation, SAG and ball mill automation, and mill circuit isolation. For electric shovels, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-based wireless vibration sensors detect problems in transmission, motor unbalance, bearing failure and in propel, hoist and crowd systems in real time. This vibration data feeds online condition monitoring software to provide early detection of possible blade failures long before they cause damage to the equipment.

Transfer Chute OptimizerChute blockages occur when buildup of material on the walls cause plugging and stops flow. Transfer chute optimizer applications, vibration monitoring, and built-for-purpose expert systems help to predict and detect blockages in real time. This non-invasive vibration monitoring and expert system generates both build-up and blockage alarms to help detect and predict blockages immediately to prevent equipment damage and respond quickly.

SAG and Ball mills are one of the most critical pieces of equipment for mining processes. Operators need to optimize grinding mill performance and reliability to ensure tight shutoff. Predictive maintenance, reliable and accurate measurements and control valves, process modeling and simulation and advanced control applications help to get a reliable operation, online diagnostics, and early alerts about potential failures. Wireless sensors enable online monitoring of critical equipment and helps avoid unplanned shutdowns. Purpose-engineered slurry isolation valves extend reliability and operational life.

For mill circuit isolation, miners can optimize grinding mill performance and reliability to ensure tight shutoff. It’s important to extend valve wear life through scheduled shutdown periods and reduce unplanned downtime with equipment failure. To address these operational challenges, miners can use purpose-engineered slurry isolation valves, such as the Clarkson KGA+ automated slurry knife gate valve to extend reliability and operational life.

It provides full port flow with tight shutoff, a sleeve design to help assure jam free operation when changing from duty to standby pump, and seamlessly connects to pump shutdown to minimize time to valve closure.

Together, these value improvement practices increase personnel safety and reliability performance. Visit the Mining, Minerals & Metals section on for more on the technologies and solutions to drive improved business performance.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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