Fuel for thought

Fuel is a precious resource and as fuel costs rise mine operators are paying increasing attention
to not only how fuel is used, but how it’s stored and dispensed.

Pilbara manager for Fuelfix, Nathan Chapman, said attitudes to fuel have changed significantly.

“The main difference I have seen in the industry is a real focus on the safety of the tanks and environmental friendliness of the facility,” Chapman told Australian Mining.

“Long gone are the days of putting a single skin tank on the ground and letting product leak on to the ground.

“Tanks need to be self bunded, easily operated, have safety features to prevent injury to the user.”

With mine operators demanding reliable fuel storage and dispensing equipment, fuel solution providers
are responding with larger tanks and facilities, faster flow rates and manage­ment systems for track and trace accountability on how the fuel is used.

“With the size of the machinery companies have now mine operators want to deliver fuel faster which means minimising downtime for refuelling and determining which operator and machine is consuming what amount of fuel,” he said.

Fuel storage solutions are making a real and measurable impact.

“To have on site a system that suits your needs is essential.

Any down time due to not being able to access fuel is a costly loss that shouldn’t happen,” he said.

According to Chapman, mine oper­ators need a safe reliable system that suits their requirements on site.

“A recent example was an open pit operation that didn’t have any refuelling facilities in the pit.

“The machinery had to come out of the pit, refuel in the refuelling bays with all the other machinery on site and mobilise back into the pit.

“Not only were they losing time coming in and out of the pit, they also had the wear and tear on the machin­ery that was costing them in down­time from repairs and maintenance.

“We tailored a solution that incor­porated lubricant and diesel storage which eliminated those previous losses.”

When investigating fuel storage solutions Chapman advised establish­ing requirements for fuel usage, the
quantity of fuel used, vehicle types refuelling – and their tank capacity, and accessibility for refuelling trucks to top up the tanks.

He said it was also worth consid­ering track and trace accountability to determine future fuel needs and


whether or not existing tanks can service those needs.

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