Conveyors, Transfers, Chutes, Equipment & Technology

19 days for belt repair and replacement

A Bowen Basin coal miner, facing an extended shutdown thanks to a badly torn conveyor belt, was back into production after only 19 days thanks to a repair and replacement by Fenner Dunlop.

At the miner’s underground mine in the Bowen Basin, a wear plate from a chute dislodged and jammed, causing a catastrophic longitudinal tear in the ST3500 drift belt, which carried up to 6,000tph. An initial assessment put the tear at around 800 metres.

Within minutes of the tear the site’s regular belt supplier was contacted. The quoted repair time was 45 to 60 days, depending on raw material availability. A call was then made to the Fenner Dunlop office in Mackay – a call that initiated a chain of events that saw the site back up and running in 19 days.

Within twelve hours of that call one of the company’s specialist belt technicians was on site to fully assess the damage and discuss possible repair and replacement options.

The tear was established at 1147 metres – almost half the total belt length – and the mine was offered two options: repair the tear, which would mean operating the belt at reduced capacity and ultimately a belt change-out; or clip the belt every 9-10 metres, run it to clear the coal and change-out the damaged section with new steel cord belt.

Based on Fenner Dunlop’s ability to supply replacement belt on a short lead time and quickly mobilise a team to complete the change-out, the second option was decided on. And with that decision made, an emergency response program went into action.

A team was sent from the Mackay branch to install the 400 metres of emergency belt held on site. A slot was created at the company’s Kwinana manufacturing facility to produce the 1150 metres of new belt – to be supplied in four rolls – needed to complete the job. Concurrently, suitable custom splice kits were manufactured at the company’s Footscray (Vic) plant and despatched to site.

To overcome the possibility of the four rolls of new belt arriving on site together a staggered delivery schedule was implemented. Each roll was despatched on its 4,500km journey from Kwinana to the Bowen Basin immediately after final quality inspection and would be spliced on site while the next roll was in transit – a delivery schedule that ensured no bottlenecks and the shortest possible delay before the belt was operational.

Nineteen days after the torn drift belt stalled production, the mine was fully operational.

“Reports from the mine tell of a smooth job and seamless integration of the new belt which (as ABHR went to press) had been running for around eight weeks with no quality, tracking or splicing issues – and is apparently performing significantly better than the original belt,” explained Brett McMillan, Mackay branch manager, Fenner Dunlop Australia.

“As to the cost of the job, when offset against the productivity losses from a potential 45-day repair, the decision proved a profitable investment.”


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