Lokotrack & Lokolink at Samarco

Posted in: , on 15. Sep. 2010 - 21:34

Lokotrack & Lokolink – success of truckless system in Samarco

Samarco is an iron ore mining company formed by a joint venture between two giants: Vale and BHP Billiton. Samarco's mine is located in the Southeast region of Brazil, in Minas Gerais State, approximately 600 kilometers from So Paulo city. The forecast for ROM extraction for 2010 is about 40Mt and 24Mt of concentrate, 100% used to produce iron ore pellet. After the expansion in course, Samarco will be the world’s biggest iron-ore pellet producer.

Samarco is known as a company that is always looking for new technologies. Some of the innovations introduced by Samarco include the 400 km pipeline to transport pellet feed to the pelletizing plant located on the coast, the use of Barmac VSI - vertical shaft impact crushers - (3 x B9100 and 3 x B9100E) to prepare ball mill feed and, more recently, the introduction of Metso's truckless system with Lokotrack LT140E and Lokolink LL12.

First system for metallic mining

Samarco's case can be considered an important milestone in the truckless concept, not only for Metso but for the entire mining industry because this is the first complete Lokotrack and Lokolink system that was supplied for metallic mining application. Also, an important paradigm was broken in this project: the mine is located in a mountain chain and is topographically difficult. This condition is considered very difficult for application of the LT+LL system.

One of the LT+LL systems is working in the stock yard, reclaiming material from the stock pile formed by truck dumping. The other one, the object of this article, is working at the mine site in the true truckless concept. This sale also involved providing assurances of performance (2000t/h) and availability (minimum 90%).

To cope with a severe mining operation environment and specific Brazilian iron ore characteristics a totally customized design was developed through cooperation between Metso's engineering and manufacturing teams in Finland and Brazil.

One factor which made the introduction of the LT+LL system easier was that Samarco already used a conveying system located inside the mine. Instead of having primary crushing, they worked with a semi-mobile vibrating grizzly with front loaders. The oversized material had to be carried out of the mine and, because of the short economical travel distance of front loaders, the field conveyors had to be relocated quite often, increasing operating cost and downtime. Due to the complex mine structure, a part of it still has to be explored using conventional truck haulage.

Large potential

At a recent workshop, Mr. Jos Raimundo from Samarco gave a presentation on the results of the operation of the LT+LL system working in the mine compared to truck haulage. According to his presentation, the cost of truck haulage was 48% higher than LT+LL and the conveying system, and the capacity and availability surpassed the assured values. Besides the reduction in direct costs, other important benefits in safety and environmental aspects were mentioned. The company’s main mining customers attended this workshop and showed a high degree of interest in the results of the LT+LL system.

The success of the truckless system is very important for Metso because of its large sales potential. Due to the recent oil crisis and the shortage of tires for trucks used in big mining operations, mining companies are looking for technologies that can minimize or eliminate the use of trucks for ROM haulage. In this scenario, the LT+LL system appears as an effective solution.

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