Swedish mining company Boliden is aiming to increase the production of its Aitik copper mine from 36 million tons to 45 million tons of ore per year. After that? Perhaps to more than 55 million tons. Achieving the ambitious production goal requires maximum plant availability. This means that everything from the crushers to the filters must be up and running for approximately 97 percent of the time.
A cost-per-ton contract in action
The maximum uptime requirement allows less than a dozen days per year for breakdowns, repair and maintenance at Aitik. Every single hour during a service shutdown counts. There simply isn’t any room for surprises.
Executing a successful shutdown under such conditions requires a reliable service partner not afraid of challenges, and this is why Boliden has entrusted Aitik’s services operations to Metso. In September 2012, the two companies signed a three-year extension of the services contract for Boliden Aitik. The new contract is a cost-per-ton agreement, which means that Metso gets paid based on Aitik’s production.
From now on, the duration of the shutdown is what matters the most. Already in August 2012, Metso carried out a 188-hour service shutdown in Aitik, which turned out to be a success.
Zero tolerance for injury
One key factor to the success was the extensive planning of precautionary health, safety and environment procedures undertaken by Metso prior to the shutdown. Thanks to strict measures applied, no injuries or accidents occurred during the shutdown, and the work could easily be finished on schedule.
Planning of the shutdown included a risk analysis for all new tasks, participating in Boliden’s safety coordination meetings, meeting with both Metso supervisors and subcontractor supervisors, and finally, a meeting with the entire staff participating in the shutdown, where everyone had to sign a document stating their commitment to the information provided.
During the actual shutdown, plenty of new barriers, signs and awareness cones were put in place as a result of observations from previous audits, and safety plans and risk analyses were readily available in the work area. Metso and Boliden also introduced a Mill Inching permit, a certificate for completing a mandatory course for those involved in the process. In addition, Metso carried out random safety audits during the shutdown to make sure the strict policy was followed.
Mill maintenance made safer
According to Boliden, Metso’s way of working is a good example of how health and safety precautions should be handled.
“Metso is a good example of how to work with safety and health plans, risk analysis, permits and welding permits. Their table with all binders in the secondary mill area was exemplary,” says Kjell-Arne Johansson, a technician from Boliden.
The use of the new Metso Megaliner™ system in the lining of Aitik’s Metso AG mills has also improved the safety of maintenance staff. The Metso Megaliner™ consists of larger-than-average liners bolted in position from outside the mill. Maintenance technicians no longer need to go inside the mill and stand in the dangerous drop-zone of the liners.
Service the Metso way: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
In addition to paying close attention to health and safety issues, executing an efficient shutdown requires careful planning and timing of every step in the maintenance process. Wear and spare parts have to be available on time, and a repair shop large enough to accommodate equipment located close by.
An example of Metso’s superb efficiency is the pump maintenance of Aitik. Metso aims to replace the pump on site and bring the old one for repair to our nearby facilities. This method gives Metso repair staff the peace to do a good job while keeping Aitik’s operations running.
And to ensure Boliden continues to meet their goals at Aitik, Metso is currently expanding its Gällivare service center to include a distribution center for wear and spare parts. Not only does the expansion make service shutdowns at Aitik run more smoothly, it guarantees a more comprehensive on-call emergency service response in the region – thanks to the parts inventory available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
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