Feed a quarry

A Queensland quarry company is reaping solid productivity rewards less than two years after investing in high-end vibrating screens and feeders. Jim Ward writes for Australian Mining.

When planning the latest stage of a major expansion just outside Brisbane, a Queensland based quarry company contacted JOEST Australia to investigate the applicability to the quarry industry of leading edge equipment designed primarily for hard-rock mining.

Two vibrating screens and feeders were installed and trialled in 2007 and the successful results led quickly to further orders, bringing the total complement of JOEST equipment at the quarry to twelve screens and eight feeders.

Managing Director of JOEST Australia Ian Laws said the decision to investigate the use of high-end equipment was prompted by the quarry operator’s need to increase productivity to maintain its position as the biggest supplier of road base and aggregates in Brisbane and south east Queensland.

“Our feasibility studies showed that, while the cost of individual JOEST units was generally higher than the equipment the client would normally have considered, the higher productivity meant they would require fewer machines. This also translated into savings on the requirement for conveyors, structures and foundations, so overall the investment was no greater than if they had taken the traditional route,” Laws said.

“The first two screens we supplied for Stage 1 – scalping and beneficiation – quickly showed we were on the right track, and the order was extended to a total of 12 screens.

“We also worked with the client to upgrade the throughput to suit operations at the quarry, tuning the equipment to reach optimum performance. As a result they are now consistently processing up to 15% more rock that the equipment’s standard operating specification.

“As well as achieving higher productivity than would have been possible using conventional quarrying screens, the client is experiencing less down-time, and with fewer machines in use, maintenance costs are reduced. An important bonus from the reduced maintenance workload is that maintenance staff are exposed to less risk, and that’s an important step toward the company’s goal of ‘zero harm’.

“The bottom line is that the high-end screening equipment is giving the client improved productivity with no price premium on the cost of the equipment they would traditionally have considered buying,” he said.

The equipment

The equipment, comprising two grizzly screens, one scalping screen, one beneficiation screen and eight product screens to sort the processed throughput into accurately defined product groups, plus eight feeders, is helping the company maintain an impressive output of two million tonnes of road base and aggregate a year.

Laws said quarrying had traditionally been a relatively small part of his company’s business, but was confident the enlightened approach taken by this client in equipping its latest expansion stage would attract interest from other major quarry operators.

“The two key words in mining and quarrying these days are ‘productivity’ and ‘safety’, and we have demonstrated we can give clients a better return in both areas, at no additional cost, by supplying them high-end screening equipment,” he said.

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