The Easi-Miner, Integral DX’s continuous surface mining excavator, eliminates the need for blasting, drilling, and primary crushers, regardless of material type or hardness grade.
Minnesota-based Integral DX, a family owned and operated business with a straightforward vision – ‘embrace those who respect, honour and value relationships’ – is seeking to enter the Australian market with a highly mobile, flexible and reliable surface mining solution.
The founder and chief executive officer of RITALKA, the parent company of Integral DX, is Kevin Wald.
The company’s unique name is derived from his children, Riley, Tallen and Kayla, who in the early days of the business were a constant motivation for the long hours of work.
The Easi-Miner was initially designed and manufactured in the 1970s by Huron Manufacturing in South Dakota, and has had multiple owners over the course of its operating life before RITALKA purchased intellectual property rights in 2019.
Over this extended period, the Easi-Miner successfully worked on many mine sites across the US, Canada and Mexico, with several Easi-Miner units having been operating in the US for more than 50 years.
Since 2019, Wald has introduced new design features to the Easi-Miner with the aim of attracting interest in larger mining markets, Australia chief among them.
“Upon purchasing the designs for Easi-Miner, COVID hit and caused a significant delay in our ability to inform the Australian market about our machine,” Wald told Australian Mining.
“We believe that Australia is the strongest market actively pursuing surface mining anywhere in the world, and that’s why we’re increasing both our visibility and presence.”
The Easi-Miner’s unique design incorporates a cutting head that rips and loads material onto a primary conveyor, eliminating the need for primary crushers, while providing real-time updates via a sophisticated control system.
The machine is designed to handle high-volume output, with the primary and discharge conveyors operating at variable belt speeds up to 250m/min, providing a loading capability of approximately 900kg every two seconds.
With a swing arc of 180° (90° to each side) and a maximum ground discharge of approximately 9m, the Easi-Miner is incredibly flexible and able to load material directly into haul truck or trailer of any size.
The machine is designed with high spiral shoulders that allow material to be pushed into the drum centre and cutting teeth to properly size material so it can be loaded on a continuous basis.
“The machine doesn’t just break it out in various-sized chunks from the cut; rather it produces a uniform material size,” Wald said.
“By working in conjunction with the speed of the cut, the depth of the cut, and the teeth orientation on the cutter, you can ensure a material size is produced that meets the next stage of your operation’s value-add process.”
The Easi-Miner operates on a quad-track crawler system that gives the ability to excavate within inches of a mine wall and extremely close to the thinnest bottom of a seam.
“The quad-track steering ability of the Easi-Miner means it is highly agile and manoeuvrable, especially in open-cut mine sites,” Wald said.
“The Easi-Miner can adjust to various open-cut depths and overburdens, handle a 10 per cent grade, while operating at speeds of up to 3.5km/h at a ground pressure of 22 PSI (pounds per square inch).
“The other benefit of the quad-track system is the ability to get a more consistent cut as the platform is incredibly stable, ensuring a consistent and accurate cutting depth.”
In a single pass, the cutting head can cover an area of up to approximately 4m across and 0.5m deep.
The cutting head has been designed to extract the material in a downward motion, allowing it to cover distances in a more effective and efficient way.
The mined materials pass through the digging assembly and dual conveyor system only once before being transferred for transportation or to be windrowed directly behind the machine, eliminating any additional stress to Easi-Miner’s frame and tracks.
Additional production requirements, including the sizing of customised head patterns, pick types, and drum diameters, can be performed quickly, with the machine’s cutting teeth able to be configured to suit site-specific requirements.
The Easi-Miner is also an inherently safe piece of equipment.
“There are no requirements for people to be outside of the Easi-Miner in order to operate the machine, as it’s completely electronically-controlled and capable of storing operating data for future analysis,” Wald said.
The cab is positioned to ensure a clear view of all sides and features a sophisticated air filtration system, a fully adjustable seat, and mounted AC and DC lighting units.
All up, the cab is home to more than 30 electronically controlled functions. In addition, recent design innovations have resulted in greater operational efficiencies.
“Based upon the first 8000 hours of mining incorporating the new design, we have determined that the Easi-Miner operates at a much lower cost per hour than our initial forecasts,” Wald said.
Doing away with the need for primary crushers, bulky loaders and large haul trucks, the Easi-Miner eliminates the demand for additional attachments, rippers and vertical drills.
By removing the double-handling generally associated with more traditional methods of surface mining, Easi-Miner’s all-in-one design helps cost savings to be passed onto the customer.
Wald and his team believe they have a mobile, robust and innovative equipment solution that is primed for Australian surface mining operations.
This feature appeared in the November issue of Australian Mining.