Sep 14, 2020 Mining blog

How to optimize energy efficiency in conveyor operations

Carlos Equi
Carlos Equi
Senior product manager, bulk material handling
In any mining operation, at some given point, bulk material has to move. Whether it is short distance within a plant or long distances across the mining site, material needs an efficient way to be transported at the lowest possible cost. Conveyors have been used as an economic way to transport large volumes of bulk material at faster speed, especially where traditional haulage methods would not be able to go. However, huge amount of energy is required to drive belts and smart solutions are needed to make significant savings on a conveying system.
Installed Energy Saving Idlers (ESI).

Enabling seamless flow of material

The mining industry is continuously exploring new ways to extract and process ore more efficiently, more safely and more sustainably. Despite some fairly radical changes on the horizon, there is still one constant within the mining process: the need to transport material in bulk.

Due to declining ore grades and mines going deeper, conveying solutions are assuming significant importance in today’s context. Conveyor belts are used for multiple purposes having high efficiency, reliability, no material degradation and provide one of the most economical forms of bulk material transport.

In mining and minerals processing applications, conveying is one of the most efficient and safest ways to transport bulk material and is often referred as the backbone of the entire process. Whether is it overcoming long distances, difficult terrain and slightly horizontal curves, conveying systems can effortlessly maneuver these conditions by matching  the specific requirements of a particular mine site and material. 

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Energy costs and conveying

Belt conveyors in bulk material handling industry are experiencing higher demand due to their high efficiency, capacity and service life for moving material over short and long distances.

Even though conveyors optimize operations on multiple levels and do improve productivity, energy consumption is becoming one of the important factors in conveyor applications. A huge amount of power is required to drive conveyor belts. It is said, that the needed energy required on this job corresponds to 30%–45% of the total consumption of the mineral extraction and processing around the world.

The past decades have also led to increase in fuel prices across global markets. A large part of mining costs including green house gas emissions could probably be saved by reducing drive power requirement.

Idlers – smart solution for boosting energy efficiency in conveyors

Energy savings are a major consideration when designing a conveying system. Today, mostly all the major mining companies monitor power consumption closely and continually seek ways to improve their overall energy efficiency. Worldwide there is a growing demand for improved energy efficiency in the form of advanced troughing idler technology for belt conveyors. The three equal roll troughing idler have being used for a long time and has not changed its configuration significantly in over a century.

We at Metso Outotec have always focused on offering productive and eco-efficient solutions to its customers. Our well researched and patented Energy Saving Idlers® (ESI) conveyor component helps boost the energy efficiency for overland conveying solutions in mining applications. With over 30 years of industry experience, Metso Outotec has found a way to provide up to 30% power savings, depending on each conveyor profile, for material transportation. ESI is a major improvement as it significantly reduces the overall rolling resistance, leading to savings in the electrical power costs to operate the conveyor.

This advanced energy-efficient technology, therefore, provides significant cost savings for operating belt conveyors, and in the case of long overland conveyors, savings on capital equipment costs as well. In addition, there is reduced OPEX over the extended life of conveyor components. There are feedbacks from site installations, where customers have realized the belt had an extended life about 2 or 3 years longer of the expected or projected life.

In a nutshell, we are always committed to provide the lowest possible total cost of ownership for all the systems offered. The purpose is to give both CAPEX and OPEX advantage over the predicted life span of the equipment or systems. Metso Outotec ESI idler® is an energy technology and a product for those who believe in energy conservation and wants to save cost on power consumption.