Three tasks in a single operation
Wirtgen surface miners can cut, crush and directly load material onto trucks or dumpers in a single operation. This saves time and the additional cost of purchasing machinery and fuel. Working with the 4200 SM in the Australian mine resulted in a 79% reduction in fuel consumption per cubic meter of mined material. Labor costs were reduced by 60% and mining unit costs per ton were reduced by 60% compared to the conventional mining method.
The score card clearly demonstrated that - when the entire process chain is taken into consideration - mine operators benefit from tremendous cost reductions when using a surface miner. These reductions are not only a result of easier processing. The smaller number of mining machines and reduced manpower described above and the avoidance of additional costs for transporting and processing waste rock also contribute significantly to the good overall score achieved by the surface miner.
Not all benefits that result from the surface miner were part of the conducted study. Additional benefits are described below.
Avoiding blasting means avoiding danger
With surface miners, drilling and blasting can be eliminated. In other words, even commodities located in the vicinity of residential areas, public roads or other infrastructure can be effectively mined. It is likewise possible to mine resources located in buffer and safety zones.
In most cases, planning and execution of blasting work is associated with considerable effort, high costs and regulatory restrictions. In fact, eliminating drilling and blasting relieves the people responsible of a number of challenges. Mine operators no longer need to spend time obtaining the required permits, hiring certified blast personnel or compiling the associated documentation. Furthermore, getting rid of drilling and blasting has a very positive impact on public opinion, meaning that opencast mining operations can proceed without causing friction in a community.
The following are further advantages of eliminating drilling and blasting:
• Enhanced safety at the mine because no explosives need to be stored
• No boulder handling necessary
• Less impact on the environment (vibration, dust and noise)
• No interruptions for blasting (production delays)
• Improved slope stability
• Reduced rockfall
• Better re-cultivation of embankments
The use of a surface miner also has a positive effect on water management at an opencast mine. The cut surfaces are levelled and can be cut at an angle. Drainage is further improved as a result and water seepage into the ground is reduced.