Repairing damaged off-the-road tyres from mining vehicles has historically been limited to traditional repair methods with many repairable tyres often discarded to landfill. Kal Tire discusses the steps it is taking to save hundreds of tyres from going to waste.
Every year, Australian mining companies wheel hundreds of damaged tyres out to the scrap pile, which they then need to report and discard of as per the rules of their local jurisdiction.
Only a small number of these tyres are designated for reuse in other applications, so the tyres are typically buried for landfill either on site or at an external, private location.
This requires an approval process as per local government regulations and as tyres generally don’t break down, Kal Tire has developed the Ultra Repair technology to try and keep tyres operating for as long as possible.
Kal Tire Australia tyre repair manager Steve Lally says Ultra Repair allows the company to complete more large-scale complicated repairs on and around tyres.
“Ultra Repair technology allows us to repair far greater damage on and around the tyre, which would normally be disposed of due to its super strength and flexibility,” Lally tells Australian Mining.
“Using the Ultra Repair tyre repair method, we can replace the steel cords which are removed from the damaged area on the tyre.
“This gives the tyre back its strength, enabling it to return back into service to achieve more tyre hours and not be put into landfill.”
To complete repairs using the Ultra Repair technology, the technicians remove the rubber from the damaged area of the tyre and remove the damaged cords.
On conventional tyres, technicians would simply fill a patch on the inside of the tyre, vulcanise it and the strength from the patch and rubber would suffice to get the tyre back into service.
Off-the-road tyres with extensive belt damage, however, are different and require the steel belt to be replaced to give the tyre greater strength and flexibility before it can be used again.
Lally says by using Ultra Repair, Kal Tire has helped one company to reduce its carbon footprint by 390,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide, determined by the output required to manufacture a new tyre.
“We repaired 64 46/90R57 tyres at a gold mine which operates 30 240-tonne haul trucks in 2018 and into 2019,” Lally says.
“This gave them a return of 96,000 extra operating hours. This is the equivalent to purchasing 22 new tyres of the same size.
“It also reduced the company’s carbon footprint by 4.2 per cent, gave a $570,000 net return and a 315 per cent return on investment.”
This carbon footprint saving equates to the output of an average car driving 70,000 kilometres or powering 780 average Australian households.
In addition to helping mining companies reduce their carbon footprint, giving tyres a longer lifespan is significantly slashing the capital expenses involved with replacing damaged tyres.
“There are huge savings when you look at the costs involved around mine tyres that would generally end up in the scrap heap, it’s unreal,” Lally says.
“The value that the Ultra Repair tyre repair method helps to return back to Kal Tire’s mining partners varies, but typically we see between 300 and 500 per cent for the ultra class (57- to 63-inch) tyres.”
While Kal Tire is making an enormous difference to the way Australian mining companies deal with their damaged tyres using Ultra Repair technology, there is still a significant gap in the way Australia disposes of tyres once they have reached the end of their life.
Kal Tire has experience in this space on an international scale, being involved in progressive tyre recycling schemes, including a recycling plant based in South America.
Most Australian state governments and environmental protection authorities are stringent on controlling the number of discarded tyres put into the ground, ensuring they are logged.
This means if Australia was to introduce a facility in future, the relevant government departments are aware of the location of tyres to be pulled out of the ground and transported to the facility.
“One of the problems with recycling tyres is they don’t break down,” Lally explains.
“A lot of mining companies have looked towards tyre recycling as an option, but the current cost involved with this type of technology is a deterrent when compared to current disposal methods, which is one of the reasons it hasn’t happened in Australia.”
While this could eventually be a long-term outcome for Australia, the nation faces difficulties due to cheaper and legislated alternatives to more environmentally sustainable solutions, such as Kal Tire’s tyre recycling technology.
This, added with the cost of establishing and maintaining a tyre recycling facility, as well as Australia’s expanse between large mining centres that are required to provide the volume of tyres needed, creates a challenging environment to develop a dedicated recycling facility.
For now, Kal Tire is working to keep Australian off-the-road tyres functional for as long as possible before disposal, with Ultra Repair making this positive difference a reality for mine sites around the country.
“Kal Tire has invested a lot in tyre recycling in South America and we hope down the track we can look at putting the same investment in Australia,” Lally says.
“The invention of Ultra Repair has been a big turnaround not just for Kal Tire, but the entire industry.”
This article appears in the October issue of Australian Mining.