Canadian Mining Journal


Top Tips for oil selection

Picking the right lubricant can avoid downtime

Understanding oil viscosity is essential.

Mining equipment has many specialized requirements due to the significant  power levels at which they operate. It is expected to perform at  full capacity for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Combining these  factors with operations in some of the world’s harshest conditions, the role  of engine oil becomes a crucial factor in the reliability and performance of  mining equipment.

Working throughout these extreme conditions, lubrication is especially  important to ensure the necessary equipment protection by minimizing  metal-to-metal contact between moving components. This is particularly   important during cold starts, which are a significant factor in  contributing to engine wear.

Extended warm-up periods can adversely affect the lubricant’s  viscosity and in turn, affect the protection offered to vital components.

Lubricants are limited to optimal temperature ranges  and consequently, when their temperatures change and reach  the “critical” zone, lubricants can become overly viscous. The  consequence of this can be harmful to equipment; if improper  lubrication occurs, under these stressful conditions, equipment  can seize up or even fail.

With the impact of downtime being so significant in a mine,  selecting the right lubricant requires careful consideration. To  ensure the correct selection of lubrication, there are four key tips  to consider:

  • The decision should always begin with consulting the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle manual – or contacting the manufacturer directly for further advice when  deciding upon a suitable product.
  • Consider what conditions the equipment works in – both how the oil is used and the climate in which it operates should be reviewed. Lubricants are available in different SAE  (Society of Automotive Engineers) grades, which dictate  the acceptable temperature range in which they can perform  optimally. According to the engine oil viscosity classification,  the “W” following SAE viscosity grade stands for “winter”  and not “weight” as many believe. This indicates that the oil  is suitable for use in, and most importantly, provides protection  in colder temperatures. For mining equipment working  in warmer conditions, a heavier grade oil such as SAE 30  or 40 grade may be more suitable. These oils can resist the  lubrication breakdown that comes with higher operating  temperatures by ensuring adequate lubrication flow and the  subsequent protection of critical engine components.

Understanding oil viscosity is essential for selecting the correct  lubrication for mining equipment as it dictates the oil’s ability  to flow, or its internal resistance to flow. If the oil’s viscosity is too high, the oil will resist easy movement which could delay  lubrication and protection of critical engine components during  a cold start-up event. This could increase engine wear and affect  equipment performance.

  • Review the benefits of synthetic vs. non-synthetic – Full synthetic and synthetic blend engine oils possess better stability than conventional oils. Full synthetic oils are formulated  with synthetic base stocks that are blended with high quality  and often unique, performance-enhancing additives. These  formulations offer a greater level of protection in a variety of  weather conditions.
  • Proof of performance – the final consideration should be whether the oil manufacturer can demonstrate their product line’s credentials with proof – such as OEM approvals, field  data in same engine and vocation or customer testimonials.

To provide solutions for these recommendations and to  adhere to the highest industry standards – including North  American API CK-4/ FA-4 – Petro-Canada Lubricants developed  the DURON heavy-duty engine oil product line.

Successfully extending oil drain intervals and providing protection  in extreme environments within a range of heavy-duty  mining vehicles, DURON has a proven history of helping mining  fleet operators reduce their maintenance costs.

Selecting an incorrect grade of lubricant or adding an aftermarket  additive to it could result in the invalidation of warranty,  increased aeration issues causing foaming, increased  wear, inefficient engine operation or unnecessary downtime.

Therefore, ensuring that professional recommendations play a  part in the decision-making process should be a priority for  mining operations.   Brian Humphrey is OEM Technical Liaison with Petro-Canada  Lubricants.

To find out more about DURON, visit and  search DURON.

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