Material Handling in the Mining Industry

Material handling is by far one of the most important processes in mining. After all, the purpose of mining is to extract materials from the ground, and so handling them efficiently is a top priority.


But what are the main components of material handling, and how are they done efficiently to ensure mines operate at peak speeds?


How are materials handled efficiently?


Material handling is a complex operation in mining systems, and most are run 24 hours a day so materials are extracted and processed in good time. For utmost efficiency, most mines will combine automated and man-powered processes.


For example, conveying the materials from one area to another is generally automated, but loading and unloading materials from the mine into exporting vessels, such as trains and ships, will often be performed by a manned vehicle.


The main purpose of material handling systems is to keep up with material extraction while keeping operating costs as low as possible. This is why many mines use a combination of automated and man-powered processes.


The main material handling machines


Conveyors


Conveyors are an important part of the material handling process, as they transport materials from one location to another with relative ease. Also, while they can be complex from a logistical perspective, their long lifespan and efficiency make them cost-effective investments.


Underground conveyors


Underground conveyors are used to transport materials from the mining site to the extraction point. Their main benefit is that they allow mines to reduce their underground vehicle fleets, although a combination of conveyors and vehicles is often used.


Overground conveyors


Overground conveyors have a number of applications, including:


· Transporting mined ore from train off-loading to jaw crushers

· Transporting processed materials from crushers to waste pits and exporting vessels


Underground trams


Underground trams have the advantage of being able to transport mine workers along with materials. This gives them an advantage over other material handling devices because they can cut down on used space. Also, they have relatively low installation and maintenance costs.


Haulage trucks


Underground trucks are more common in shallow mines that have easy ramp access. Unlike tram systems, they have greater flexibility in their operation and capacity. However, they have greater upkeep costs due to the required fuel and manpower. Underground trucks are often the preferred method for material handling in mines up to 400m deep.


Scoop trams


Scoop trams (or LHDs) are versatile pieces of material handling equipment because they can either haul materials out of the mine or be used to load another haulage method. A major benefit of LHDs is that they can be serviced by multiple drop-off points in a sub-level caving mine.


Conclusion


SCRIBANTE is familiar with all areas of material handling involved in the mining process. Through years of experience, we have been able to find the perfect balance between efficient handling and low operating costs. If you’re in the Southern African mining industry, or want to know more about material handling in mining, contact SCRIBANTE for more information.

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