Tuesday 14th Jul, 2020

barracuda makes a splash in hard materials mining

The first barracuda bucket wheel cutting excavators have arrived on site and are providing miners with ways to improve their operations.

Last year, ABHR sat down with thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions to learn about how its barracuda bucket wheel cutting technology would be a step change in hard material mining. Now, the first units have arrived on site and are providing miners with ways to improve their operations.

In 2016, the mining market was introduced to thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions’ latest development in the field of hard cutting bucket wheel excavators, the barracuda.

thyssenkrupp’s barracuda is a range of compact bucket wheel excavators capable of cutting materials with up to 50 MPa of uniaxial compressive strength. It uses a larger number of teeth per bucket, with a dense tooth to material pattern. This design allows harder material to be excavated, such as potash, limestone or frozen materials without the need for drilling or blasting operations.

Buyers were quick to place orders, with China’s Huaneng Group placing an order, followed by two more for mining company Italian-Thai Development PLC. Commissioning of the machines is well under way and both companies expect to begin operations in the coming months.

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions tells Australian Bulk Handling Review the three main features that make the barracuda attractive to mine operators are streamlined material transportation, predictable operational costs and the elimination of pre-blasting.

Related stories:

The first benefit is a major reduction in costs when comparing a conveyor transportation system with conventional truck transportation. Integrating a barracuda enables continuous mining systems and with the ability to excavate hard materials, widens the scope of applications available.

The second benefit is a value-based pricing model for selected wear parts, creating for a highly accurate and predictable operational cost structure. This is especially useful for miners without previous experience operating bucket wheel excavators.

However, the main factor is the elimination of pre-blasting, which makes the overall mining process leaner, cost effective and safer.

Conveyor transportation

There are four different versions of the barracuda; each for different material transport requirements. These range from a compact machine with a conveyor for the basic extraction process, to the barracuda C, a full-line compact bucket wheel excavator with a discharge boom operating in tandem with a conveyor system.

By combining the loosening, loading and transportation of material with a single machine, the barracuda can replace an often-complex system of multiple different units with a continuous flow.

“We already identified some cases where one barracuda shows potential to replace a combination of more than 10 single units of other mining equipment, providing an optimisation of the operation and maintenance efforts required in the mine,” says Paulo Costa, Global Head of Mining Systems at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions.

Thanks to the barracuda’s electrical drive, which can use green energy systems, swapping from conventional trucking to conveyor transportation can provide cost savings in the transport chain and reduce an operation’s carbon footprint.

Risk mitigation

thyssenkrupp’s digitalised product offering, enables the company to offer a flexible contract model for selected wear parts, covering lifetime predictions or other contract models with certain guaranteed performances, like spare part availability. This flexibility allows for low-risk implementation of the barracuda.

This value-based lifetime model can accurately predict costs for wear parts and helps mitigate risk for one of the main cost drivers of operational expenditures on bucket wheel excavators.

Stefan Ebert, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Global Product Lifecycle Manager for Mining Systems, said “The offering is part of the company’s digitalisation initiative, developing customer focused innovations, together with our global product development team.”

“It is a great experience to challenge ourselves continuously with the individual needs and risk profiles of our customers and flexibly adjust our offering accordingly,” Mr Ebert says.

Eliminating Pre-blasting

Many compact bucket wheel excavator applications still require blasting to fracture the in-situ rock formation. Costs for pre-blasting can often exceed 30 cents per tonne, which can add up across a multimillion-tonne operation.

By removing the need for drilling and blasting, the barracuda provides significant cost optimisations, especially for mine expansions or new projects which will often require investment into new equipment anyway.

Blasting operations also often require meeting increasingly restrictive environmental regulations. For example, without explosives, there are reduced noise emissions, blast fumes, dust and vibrations, making the operation more environmentally sustainable.

In addition, environmental permits and getting the social licence to operate can potentially be easier to achieve.

“We are confident the barracuda will provide Australian miners with an operationally viable alternative to traditional load-and-haul operations with many compelling operational expense advantages,” says Prof. Johann Rinnhofer, CEO thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Australia.

“An additional benefit is the lower carbon footprint, which contributes to the green transformation of their operations.”

Driving growth

With the first barracudas set to begin operation in Asia soon, the market will be keen to see the results. thyssenkrupp says positive news from the mines could boost the next wave of implementation of barracudas around the world and the company is ready to meet customer demand for other material compositions.

By removing the need for pre-blasting, providing value-based pricing on wear parts and implementing continuous conveyor transportation, the barracuda is well-positioned to help Australian mines expand into the future.