Elphinstone recently acquired the Beltor puller, an underground mine extraction device designed to safely recover buried equipment with minimal disruption to operations.
Operator safety and mine productivity have always been priorities at Elphinstone, a company with a long and successful history designing and manufacturing underground hard rock mining equipment.
From its headquarters in Burnie, Tasmania, Elphinstone has been supplying the mining industry with equipment since 1975, when Dale Elphinstone founded the company.
“Dale is the executive chairman of Elphinstone and his legacy of over 45 years in the underground mining realm continues in the ethos and values of the company he founded,” Elphinstone global sales and marketing manager Tim Mitchell told Australian Mining.
Elphinstone’s dedication to the business and contribution to the METS (mining equipment, technology and services) sector received public recognition when he was awarded the Champion of Innovation award at Austmine 2023.
“The award celebrates an individual who has pioneered and championed innovation and has changed the course of the mining industry through their outstanding vision, inspirational leadership, passion for innovation and advancement of mining equipment, safety, technology and services,” Mitchell said.
Elphinstone’s ongoing commitment to safety and mine productivity was further demonstrated in March of this year, when it announced the acquisition of MED Pty Ltd, the owner of the intellectual property for the underground mine extraction device (MED), also known as the Beltor puller.
The Beltor puller was developed by the founder of Beltor Engineering, Aldo Beletich, back in the 1980s.
“The MED was invented in response to underground miners needing a way to extract buried or bogged equipment in a safe and efficient manner without damaging the mine or negatively impacting production,” Mitchell said.
When Beletich invented the first Beltor mine extraction device – or MED Puller as it’s commonly called – mining equipment was much lighter than it is today.
The first MED, with a pulling capacity of 90 tonnes, was introduced to the market in 1988 to meet the needs of the underground thermal coal miners in and around Newcastle.
“With the increase in size and weight of underground mining equipment, there was a need for larger extraction devices to recover buried or bogged equipment,” Mitchell said. “As a result, higher capacity MEDs were introduced to ensure that underground mining operations could return to full production with minimum delay.”
The 150-tonne (MED150) and 210-tonne (MED210) versions of the device were subsequently introduced in line with the industry’s growth.
In addition to the retrieval of buried equipment, the higher capacity models are also capable of extracting drill rods embedded in the rock face.
And the expansion did not stop there.
“In 2020, the largest version of the extraction device was launched, the MED360,” Mitchell said. “It has a pulling capacity of 360 tonnes for much larger underground coal and hard rock machinery.
“What makes the (Elphinstone) MED unique is that it eliminates the need, damage and disruption of using other production equipment to remove the buried machine and operates in a more controlled and safe way.”
Mitchell explained how the MED works on a mine site.
“When the MED is towed into position in the mine, the boom is raised against the roof and the wheels are lowered on the floor, effectively wedging the machine into position,” he said.
“A bridle assembly is interlocked into the teeth of the MED racks, which are then pulled via hydraulic cylinders.
“The process is conducted in relative silence, allowing the operators to hear and see exactly what is happening during the extraction – a stark contrast to the traditional method with wheeled or tracked tow vehicles that produce noise and dust.”
The MED will be sold and serviced by Elphinstone direct to end users from the company’s manufacturing facility in Burnie.
This feature appeared in the October 2023 issue of Australian Mining.