Simple mining

Three Wirtgen surface miners work for Mineração Paragominas in the Pará region, where surface mining has now replaced the conventional mining method used to date.

Bauxite mining in Paragominas, in the far north of Brazil, has been revolutionized by a surface miner of type 2500 SM built by Wirtgen. The first such machine in Brazil, it has been in operation there since March 2011. The aluminium manufacturer Hydro has a 64.6 per cent stake in the “Mineração Paragominas” mine, the remaining 35.4 per cent being held by the Brazilian company Vale. With a cutting width of 2,500 mm and a cutting depth of up to 600 millimeter, the Wirtgen surface miner can reclaim around 800 tons of bauxite per hour. The machine weighs 100 tons and is driven by an engine rated at over 1,000 PS.

Surface mining: Environmental protection and sustainability

Since the mined material is discharged directly into the dumper truck via an 11-meter-long conveyor belt, there is no need for additional mine equipment, such as excavators or wheeled loaders. “The 2500 SM produces as much as two or three conventional mining sets,” explains Cláudio Morgado, Maintenance Manager Mineração Paragominas. “That not only cuts the cost of production, but also makes working in the mine safer.”

Surface mining extracts the mineral raw material without drilling or blasting. The rock is first cut and crushed by a special cutting drum before being transferred into dumper trucks or wagons via sturdy conveyor systems. In this way, surface miners not only save time and money, but also energy. What‘s more, the material is mined without producing vibrations. Low noise and dust levels are another advantage of surface mining as compared to conventional methods. “Of course, we want to operate profitably, but reconciling cost-efficiency with protection of the environment and sustainability is also one of our corporate goals. The surface miners from Wirtgen help us to achieve precisely that,” says Agnus Delagado, General Manager Mining, Mineração Paragominas, with a smile as he explains the advantages of surface mining.

A complete local service infrastructure is needed on account of the mine‘s remote location in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and round-the-clock operation of the machines. For this reason, the Wirtgen Group‘s local dealer Deltamaq has set up a service base directly in the mine itself. Service technicians, warehouse specialists and application experts are permanently on hand to ensure that the machines run smoothly. All the service technicians receive regular training at the Wirtgen headquarters in Germany. Convinced by both the Wirtgen Group‘s customer service concept and the surface miner‘s performance, the mine‘s managers decided to deploy two more surface miners of type 2500 SM in Paragominas. Three Wirtgen surface miners have now been working for Mineração Paragominas since mid-2012. In this way, surface mining has completely replaced the conventional mining method used to date.