Mixing with the best

JS MELBOURNE Control’s Hydro De Wetter has won the Prospect Awards Innovative Mining Solution Award.

JS Melbourne Control’s Hydro De Wetter is a simple solution for mixing hydrophobic materials and fine dusts.

Protecting mine workers is a responsibility that mining companies and managers take very seriously.

The mining industry uses products that, when released into the air, can have a damaging effect on the environment and the workers in the area.

The release of these items into the air can be extremely dangerous if the material is harmful, poisonous or flammable.

Every mine uses powders in its processes such as lime, flocculants, polymers, or activated carbon.

In certain parts of mining operations it is necessary to mix these materials with water.

Many of these powders are hydrophobic (do not like to mix into water), and traditional mixing processes can release a vast amount of powder-dust into the air.

This can create a serious occupational health and safety risk for workers.

JS Melbourne Controls has designed the Hydro De Wetter that can mix hydrophobic materials, and mix them without dangerous dusts escaping into the air.

The innovation also eliminates heavy lifting when mixing flocculants, polymers, and other powders.

Wetting-out carbon powder for safe disposal as a liquid is commonly used at mine sites and minerals processing plants.

Powder activated carbon is common in gold processing, and is one of the most difficult products to mix with liquid.

The innovation was developed following years R&D of the hydro-shear principle.

There are no moving parts in the design, eliminating wear and abrasion on the equipment, and there is no risk of workers being caught in moving parts.

JS Melbourne Controls managing director John Melbourne conducted interviews personally to determine mixing problems encountered in different industries.

Companies needing to mix fume silica highlighted the need for a device that mixes hydrophobic materials.

Fume silica is widely used in the cement industry, is exceptionally light, and exceptionally hydrophobic.

The Hydro De Wetter’s straight-through bore design ensures that there are no interruptions to products passing through the device, and no blockages in the production process.

Additionally this makes the device simple to clean.

The company can successfully mix material into water at 5 kg per minute.

A number of powders used in the mine environment are explosive, and can not be mixed with electrical machinery.

The Hydro De Wetter is non-electric and eliminates this potential hazard.

The innovation has been adapted for a number of different industries, including the food and wine industry, as the simple design can be applied to a range of products.

The device relies on low-cost pneumatic or hydro energy for its operation.

John Melbourne is no stranger to winning awards for his innovative products, having already won a considerable number of occupational health and safety Awards.

Testament to the innovation of Melbourne products was the company’s induction into the Manufacturing Hall of Fame.

Highly commended

Myuna Colliery is an underground coal mine on the western shores of Lake Macquarie in NSW, and is part of the Centennial Coal group of mines.

Myuna is a first workings mine that uses the place change mining method to mine three seams of coal mostly under Lake Macquarie.

It supplies thermal coal to Eraring Power Station, and currently has a workforce of 160 men.

The Hydraulic Advancing Temporary Support (HATS) system is an original solution, developed by staff at the mine, to the problem of stabilising unsupported roof.

Unsupported roof represents one of the greatest physical hazards in underground mining.

When radio controlled continuous miners are disabled under unsupported roof there is a requirement to install temporary roof support to carry out repairs.

The HATS system allows a series of commercially available and lightweight hydraulic roof props to be remotely installed from a safe location.

This permits temporary roof support to be installed without mineworkers exposed to unsupported roof.

The concept of the system was developed through workforce consultation at the mine site.

The system design was refined, built and certified by a qualified design engineer.

The innovation is inexpensive, as hydraulic components are readily available from a number of manufacturers.

The equipment is quickly assembled, and reduces the time taken to access a disabled continuous miner.

Reduced recovery time reduces the risk to employees, and minimised machine downtime ensures that productivity is maintained.

There was extensive use of the risk management process during the designing planning, building, testing and implementation of the HATS system.

The HATS system has potential for a much broader application across other industries such as construction, civil works, and in rescue; basically anywhere there is a requirement to make an unsupported structure safe.

The previous technique for stabilising unsupported roof was to install timber props.

A risk assessment run by Myuna Colliery found this to be a high risk activity.

The implementation of the HATS system reduced the activity of stabilising unsupported roof to a low risk activity.

No reported incidents or injuries have been reported since the installation of the HATS system at Myuna Colliery.

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