More pink for the Pilbara

HDPE conveyor guards are providing Australian miners with a sustainable solution for site safety.

Around 660 square metres of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conveyor guards for three conveyors have been produced and installed at a major iron ore operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

They were manufactured by Perth-based specialist conveying equipment engineers, DYNA Engineering, preventing 12 tonnes of recycled plastics from going to landfill.

HDPE is a thermoplastic polymer produced from monomer ethylene.

With a high strength-to-density ratio, it is commonly used in the production of plastic bottles, corrosion-resistant piping, geomembranes, plastic flooring and engineering componentry.

Thomas Greaves, general manager of DYNA Engineering, says sustainability and recycling within the mining and manufacturing industry is the direction these industries are moving, which is why the company has developed its own HDPE manufacturing line that takes advantage of recycled materials.

“Our customers care about sustainability and using new plastic hurts the environment,” Greaves says.

“We’ve also seen the popularity of HDPE start to dramatically increase since we released our new conveyor guards.

“This customer requested them to be made in the colour pink, to support breast cancer awareness.”

The decision to use pink came up in early talks and was easy to implement as part of the manufacturing process, because the recycled plastic is supplied by colour.

“Steel guards can also rust and corrode where HDPE does not,” Greaves says. “Additional advantages are they will never need repainting as the colour is inherent in the material used and they are metal detector friendly.

“The site also required the guards to allow employees to work alongside it while running. The weight of steel guards would have made this impossible as the structure could only carry so much.”

The guards have a life span of about 10–15 years and are themselves fully recyclable, meaning they can be melted down and recycled over and over.

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