A steady supply chain for hard rock processing

McLanahan reveals how its new direct drive crushing mineral sizer will help miners achieve higher throughput of minerals with less impacts, fines and abrasion wear.

McLanahan has traditionally manufactured a particular direct drive sizer crusher for softer minerals like coal, spodumene and limestone.

The company’s new direct drive crushing mineral sizer is, however, its first venture into creating a sizer specifically targeted for hard rock applications, such as copper, gold and iron ore, keeping up with trending demands in Australian mining.

McLanahan director of sales and marketing for the mineral systems division, Chris Knowles, says an increase in demand for more maintenance-friendly compression crushers led the company to review its historical designs and establish a mineral sizer for primary crushing in hard rock applications.

“The mineral sizer is quite a diverse machine, we have used it in softer ores like spodumene, antimony and rare earths,” Knowles tells Australian Mining.

“The new mineral sizer we have designed is primarily focussed on high volume hard rock applications, which are custom designed for each customer and application.

“This brings significant long-term value, having something ideally suited for their application.”

As Australia strives to remain globally competitive in hard rock minerals processing, mining companies are looking for new methods to boost efficiency.

Mineral sizers are allowing mining operations to replace large equipment traditionally used in primary compression crushing with a solution that provides lower capital costs, a smaller footprint and less demand for infrastructure.

“Australian miners look at direct drive mineral sizers as a way to reduce the size of the run of mine wall or support structure under the primary crusher,” Knowles explains.

“Some mining operations over time have been confronted with orebodies that might not be as productive; these ore bodies have clay lenses or be alluvial deposits.

“Sizers are ideally suited to manage these orebodies and the clay deposits within them.”

The mineral sizer provides a suitable alternative to using a compression crusher, which is not ideal for orebodies with large quantities of clay, as they can be compressed and build up within the crusher.

Knowles says this is an issue the industry will face in future, as mining operations are forced to dig deeper for deposits and mine lower-grade orebodies.

McLanahan has designed its newest mineral sizer to manage more difficult materials.

“It has taken us four years to get the mineral sizer the way we wanted, but this has been an informative process,” Knowles says.

“The critical differentiators with this design incorporate those aspects around operability and maintenance that our customers have shared with us. This type of collaborative approach adheres to one of the basic principles of industrial design, which is form follows function.

“We’re not manufacturing for ourselves; we are manufacturing for our customers so they can be globally competitive.”

Knowles says being an Australian manufacturer means McLanahan’s manufacturing processes must be leaner to be competitive globally.

“Because we are high-cost country for manufacturing, Australia needs to commit to a culture of continuous improvement to be at the premium end of the value chain,” he says.

“The benefit McLanahan has is that we are situated close to our customer base and have a well-connected service team across mining regions, which gives us access to operators and maintenance managers.

“They provide the engagement we need to make informed decisions around the features and function of our designs.”

McLanahan’s feedback from industry allows it to manufacture equipment with features that are longer-wearing, more maintenance friendly and easier to access parts.

In turn, this approach enables the maintenance team to increase time between maintenance windows and to replace parts quicker, with minimal manpower.

“Our challenge was to design and build a machine that requires the absolute minimal human interaction, which is an important aspect of Australian mining, as Australian mining operations typically have one fifth of the manpower you might see on another mine in say Africa or Indonesia,” Knowles explains.

“What we have built is a connected crusher, a machine that can fit into a connected mine.

“That connected mine has to fit into the end user’s connected supply chain and Australian manufacturers need to be aware of that to make sure we are part of that smart manufacturing and design.”

As Industry 4.0 transforms mining, Knowles says it is up to manufacturers like McLanahan to provide equipment that delivers confidence to essential industries and that the minerals they extract will be done so in the most efficient and sustainable manner possible.

“Australia is still the most reliable supplier of minerals on earth and I’m happy that as an Australian manufacturer, we are a low-risk supply chain for Australian miners. We’re here, we’re local and still able to maintain a secure supply chain despite the challenges of 2020 and that provides our customers with confidence,” Knowles concludes.

This feature also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.

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