Proper transfer point design saves on spillage and tape costs

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In a compact and cluttered transfer point area in the screen chamber of a Limpopo platinum mine, Weba Chute Systems recently applied its transfer point experience to facilitate the operation.

According to Hilton Buys, regional manager at Weba Chute Systems, there had been a persistent problem with fines dumping and skew loading of tape from two conventional chutes. Chutes transfer fine material less than 25mm in size from screen trivets to conveyor belts.

“At the heart of the problem was a design issue, which we analyzed and resolved with structural changes recommended by our in-house design office, and two new custom-designed Weba chutes,” Buys explains. “We had long supplied the chutes for oversized material passing through this facility, and these chutes have been running smoothly for over 10 years.”

The impact of implementing the new chutes and transfer point design was immediate, he says: no more skew belt loading and no more dumping. The belts are now working properly and there is no need for additional cleaning around the belts, he says.

“A key aspect of the solution was our waterfall chute in a horseshoe formation,” he explains. “Our chute manipulates the material so that it stays in the center as it exits the chute.”

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Additionally, the chute design considered all material characteristics such as lump size, moisture content and bulk density, so the speed of material leaving the chute could be controlled. This allows the material to leave the chute at the same speed as the conveyor is moving.

“By doing it this way, we didn’t need a plinth because the material is held in the middle of the strip,” he says. “We also didn’t need to install impact rollers, because the material hadn’t fallen from a height; rather there was a smooth transfer from the chute to the conveyor, which moved at a comparable speed.

He argues that mineral processing plants typically focus on relatively capital-intensive equipment, such as crushers, screens and apron feeders. Too often, however, the vital role that chutes and conveyors play in moving ore is overlooked.

“It’s a big mistake to overlook the importance of a properly designed transfer point,” he says. “The problems that an improper design can cause are costly to the entire operation and also have safety implications.”

In addition to belt damage, valuable production time is lost due to breakdowns and unplanned shutdowns, he explains. These cost mines orders of magnitude more than the cost of a bespoke transfer point solution.


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