Better belting at Brunswick
When it came time to replace a 1,340-ft-long slope conveyor belt at Noranda’s Brunswick underground zinc mine, located near Bathurst, N.B., the project team in charge enlisted the expertise of Goodyear Canada‘s Engineered Products Division for product, service and technical support.
“We first began by analyzing products on the market, then reviewing what we believed were the best products suited to our needs, followed by selecting and installing the Goodyear conveyor belt,” said Jean-Guy Lagace, material-handling maintenance supervisor for Noranda. “Right after the belt was installed, our reliability team established a good maintenance program and has remained committed to inspecting and cleaning the belt once a week.”
Goodyear’s 36-inch-wide Plylon Plus Hi Tension 1350/3-ply Stacker 12- x 6-mm fabric conveyor belt, with Sensor Guard 2000 rip detection system, was installed in 2001 at the Brunswick mine.
“We are extremely pleased there has been no major downtime whatsoever since we installed the Goodyear conveyor belt. In fact, we have experienced 100% reliability and durability. We decreased our costs by 51% versus the previous three years when we had another belt in operation,” said Lagace. “This 51% reduction relates to material and labour cost savings.
“Our operation runs 24/7 year-round employing approximately 850 people, so our expectations for this belt are high. From the data collected over the past three years, we anticipate this belt to perform for at least another five years–it’s what we’ve grown to expect,” said Lagace. “Since installation, the Goodyear Plylon Plus Hi-Tension conveyor belt has moved over 10 million tonnes of ore to the concentrator without any major downtime. It’s a unique belt that is our lifeline for transporting ore from underground to the mill. That’s how important this belt is to us,” added Lagace.
To maintain its approach to cost-savings, the Noranda team also installed an ore-rehandling system to ensure continuous belt-load monitoring and feeding. This means the belt tips the ore onto the ground, then it is placed again on the same conveyor system, which returns it to the mill on an as-needed basis. Additionally a data collection and monitoring system was developed to streamline the process within the maintenance operations department.
Goodyear’s Sensor Guard 2000 rip detection system also limits belt damage. Closed circuit sensor loops are embedded in the conveyor belt and as the belt moves past electromagnetic detectors linked to a microprocessor, the detectors receive a pulse. If the pulse is not recognized by the control unit, the belt is automatically shut down.
“On a few occasions, the rip detection system prevented the belt from being severely damaged or destroyed. There are times when the ore contains scrap metal such as rock bolt, steel cable and pipe, which can seriously harm a conveyor belt and our production. As an example, we encountered a severe belt puncture and rip, and Sensor Guard 2000 shut down the belt system and limited the damage to only 75 feet,” said Lagace.
Additional safety steps were taken by installing two side travel switches and power draw limits programmed into the PLC that controls the conveyor system motor. All of these steps help to eliminate an overloaded belt, which means if the belt exceeds load capacity, it will automatically stop.
For Lagace, people are the remaining vital ingredient to the overall success of their operation. “We’ve always had good support. In order to select the proper belt, we had to have key people. We pulled together a great group and it was a solid team effort where there was lots of brainstorming to determine a problem using problem-solving techniques. We formed our team with people from Goodyear Canada Engineered Products, Industrial Rubber Company Ltd. and our own engineering and maintenance people,” Lagace said.
Brad Baber is national marketing manager, industrial products for Goodyear Canada Engineered Products Division. Gary Dolson ([email protected]) is former director of public relations for Goodyear Canada Inc., and now owns Hi-Level P.R. Inc.