Apr 3, 2020

Boliden Kevitsa collaborating on process plant maintenance

At its Kevitsa copper-nickel mine, 130 km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, Boliden has been exploring condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions to ensure the highest equipment availability, as it undergoes a major expansion.

Expansion in the works

The mine is in the process of an SEK800 million ($82 million) expansion that will see plant throughput go from 7.8 Mt/y to 9.5 Mt/y. The addition of a new autogenous mill and peripheral equipment (including a new Metso MF series screen) as well as a new mill building are all part of the planned project. Commissioning of the new equipment is expected in 2020, with the mine reaching full 9.5 Mt/y capacity in 2021.

With this expansion going on, plant maintenance has become even more of a focus.

Some 80% of process plant maintenance is currently pre-scheduled, with the Kevitsa mine achieving, on average, 93% availability from its equipment, according to Sami Pelkonen, Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Boliden Kevitsa., but the mine is looking to increase these numbers.

“Kevitsa mine has been looking to acquire good quality and useful data to support the daily maintenance operations and procedures at the plant” stated Pelkonen. “This is all part of the company’s plan to increase uptime and cut costs at the operation.”

As part of this initiative, it installed the IBM Maximo asset management system in May 2019. At the same time, the operation has been working with the Boliden Mines Technology Department on a wider asset management program.

When it comes to plant reliability, Boliden Kevitsa has enlisted the help of SKF (for condition monitoring of bearings throughout the plant), OSISoft for process data acquisition, and Metso to ensure uptime of mineral processing equipment is maximized and unplanned downtime is reduced.

Quick results after installing Metso Metrics

When the mine acquired a new MF screen from Metso in 2019, it decided now was the time to trial the new Metso Metrics predictive maintenance platform in this part of the flowsheet.

Installing Metso Metrics as a test paid off almost instantly, when, soon after installation, the company noticed there was something wrong with the running speed of the screen.

“The indication we received from Metso Metrics helped us map out that there were two broken V belts. We were able to cut the downtime to a minimum thanks to the information coming from Metrics,” Pelkonen explained.

Pelkonen continued: “After the increase in production (to 9.5 Mt/y), the front end will be even more critical for us, so we have to be aware if any failures are developing in our front end, especially in our screen.”

The remote location of Kevitsa, situated some 40 km by road from Sodankylä, is also behind the need for this type of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance. “If something happens like we have an equipment failure, it takes around one hour for our employees to get to the mine,” he said. “Condition monitoring helps us address the need to get resources to site in the correct time.”

A long term partnership for performance

The partnership with Metso dates back to before the mine was acquired by Boliden in 2016, but in recent years the two have collaborated on crusher and mill uptime projects under a Life Cycle Services (LCS) agreement.

“Metso has helped us a lot in developing our maintenance operations and improve the reliability of the equipment by product design. We have improved the availability of the mills and the crushers and reduced the change times, especially on the mills and crushers”  explains Pelkonen.

This involves the OEM supplying mill liners and wear parts that can be switched out quickly and cost effectively, along with shutdown services.

“Metso has helped us a lot in developing our maintenance operations and improve the reliability of the equipment by product design. We have improved the availability of the mills and the crushers and reduced the change times, especially on the mills and crushers”  explains Pelkonen.

The two firms have also been in constant communication about accessing and analysing valuable process plant data during the last three years, which led to the discussions around trialing Metso Metrics.

Olli Luukkonen, Director, Data & Analytics at Metso, summarized the success of the recent trial “It’s all about the collaboration and communication we have achieved with the Metso Metrics trial. It helps us identify issues with the equipment and solve them more quickly as the root cause analysis is simpler. Metrics is the tool that enables the collaboration, but it is really the people and expertise we bring in that help make the difference.

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