Making fuel FIT for miners

Without diesel fuel Australia would quickly grind to a halt.

All of its major industries – construction mining, manufacturing, and logistics – require a constant stream of fuel to continue to operate. It truly is the lifeblood of Australian industry.

However, just as with the human circulatory system, it is important to keep contaminants out of the supply. If the diesel supply chain becomes contaminated, vital systems down the line will suffer, in this case heavy machinery can be affected.

While fuel delivered to site is held to an exacting standard, some properties of fuel can be affected and degrade over time. This usually isn’t of great concern in mining as fuel is typically used fairly quickly: The main concern is contaminants.

Containing contaminants

The two major contaminants that affect fuel are almost unavoidable on the mine site – dirt and water. Water can get into a mine’s fuel tanks through a number of different ways, such as condensation, during transportation, leakage issues, or handling problems. This can cause injector and pump corrosion, or cause the growth of bacteria in the diesel fuel.

Dirt has a much more pervasive effect on equipment’s engines. However it is not the large dirt particles that cause the problems, as they typically fall to the bottom of the tank or are strained out by fuel filters. If microparticles of less than ten microns in size find their way into diesel fuel they can cause fuel injector blockages and lead to poor combustion in the chamber. This has a negative effect on power, fuel economy, and emissions.

This decreases a mine’s efficiency, cutting into its productivity and hurting the bottom line, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Fighting for fuel

BP has developed a new program designed to help ensure the cleanliness of fuel, and assist miners through training, sampling, and personalised service on best practice fuel management.

The program, dubbed Fuel Integrity and Technology (FIT), focuses on five key aspects – Clean Fuels; Fuel Training; Advanced Fuels; Fuel Management; and Fuel Technology, and helps operators avoid the problems of contaminated or poor quality fuel.

The key to this has been its continued investment in the BP Global Technology Centre which works with a multitude of OEMs on engine development and testing, according to BP’s global head of mining, Stuart Anderson.

“An even bigger example is BP’s new BP Ultimate Diesel fuel which delivers significant fuel efficiencies in the mining environment,” he said.

 “When you run the numbers, the savings are enormous. As we know, the new mining-maths is about cost per tonne and this will be a big contributor to this objective.

The FIT program is supported by an innovative web portal that is tailored to operators’ needs and is a “repository for site and fuel sampling reports as well as BP’s new online fuels training modules,” the company added.

To hear from our experts as to what the Fuel Integrity and Technology (FIT) can do for you, watch this video.