Mobile crushers continue to increase in popularity for the open-pit mine operators seeking to reduce haul traffic and lower life-cycle costs. But due to innovations, there is an increasing demand for them in underground applications too.
Mobile crushing solutions are making their way underground
Advantages of mobile crushing solutions for underground applications
The main advantages are going to be the flexibility and adaptability of the solution. Compared to stationary equipment, the mobile solution, being on wheels or track mounted with a compact design, allows ease of movement around the mine.
From a practical standpoint, the construction work, needed to develop underground mines, often involves track mounted equipment and tunnels creating ease of access to deliver equipment to the location.
If customers are looking to raise the base for the ore value, another advantage would be being able to reprocess the material saves time and resources compared to having to transport outside of the mine to a refinery.
Also, mobile crushers are going to reduce the required haul trucks which allows greater control on dust, but also reduces the risks overall due to truck traffic going in and out of the mine.
Innovations for mobile crushing solutions
There are several innovations that boosted the mobile crushers to becoming a viable option underground. One area that is of particular interest is the modularity for very deep mines, where the access points are only through a mine shaft, usually a very tight space, but the equipment has to get down there.
Having solutions that can be dismantled into sections allows the equipment to be ’delivered’ to its destination and easily constructed due to the design.
Increasing safety for underground crushing
Safety is essential at any mine site, especially underground. There are plenty of safety measures to take and ensuring that the equipment adds minimal risks to the operation as a whole, is always on the list of considerations.
Mobile crushing units are always pre-assembled and tested at the factory. This takes away any installation risks on site. It also gives the mine operators peace of mind knowing the mobile unit has been tested, it works and can be easily integrated into the given application.
Due to the flexibility of the machine, and ease of transportation, all service work can be performed above ground compared to stationary solutions underground. This also eliminates the need for an extra equipment underground because of the ability to move freely.
Role of automation and remote operations
Traditionally, mobile equipment has integrated automation. But bigger mining companies tend to require open platforms in which they can really see the code and have full control. When it comes to mobile crushing the trend is changing. Even bigger mining companies are starting to accept integrated automation, and this creates more opportunities to develop automation for mobile crushers.
So yes, automation is coming. And there are ideas already in the works involving loaders and crushers. In fact, there are already automated pulling machines and loaders, which are delivering benefits.
Future adoption of mobile crushing solutions
Over the next few years, the application of mobile crushing solutions is looking to increase and there will not be a stop as we go into the long-term future.
Primarily, it comes down to the flexibility. They can be used in many different applications – in tunnel construction, primary crushing for the main mine process, even at ground level for any work that is going on. So, taking it from underground to above ground is always an option.