As mines become progressively deeper, mining operations face increased operating costs and challenges in more complex scenarios. Aspects such as energy costs; equipment and labour scarcity; and carbon footprint encourage the utilisation of In-Pit Crusher Conveyor (IPCC) systems. Nevertheless, despite being a potential alternative to truck/shovel mining systems, its viability is still highly argued. This is due to the series-connected nature of the IPCC systems which greatly affects system availability, utilisation and productivity; combined also with a need to adapt longer horizons for mine planning, resulting in loss of planning flexibility. Furthermore, IPCC systems require high upfront investment compared to other mining systems. As a result, continuous operability of IPCC at the highest possible productivity rate is vital in order to be a more cost-effective alternative.
The proposed research project aims to evaluate the implementation of parallel conveyors in IPCC systems utilising a dragline machine fitted with Universal Dig and Dump (UDD) Technology. The study establishes systems availability, utilization and productivity by means of modelling its reliability and simulating its performance assisted by computational software. As a result, the system viability is determined by comparing it to an alternative configuration with a single belt conveyor line. To achieve this, the investigation is guided by the following methodology: First of all, it analyses IPCC systems as the background of the project. Then, it examines dragline - IPCC systems integrating UDD technology and a parallel conveyor system. Next, it models the reliability of parallel conveyors in dragline – IPCC configuration to evaluate systems availability, utilisation and productivity. Finally, it addresses the research question: “Can a parallel conveyor system increase the economic viability of In-Pit Crusher Conveyor systems?”
The study concludes that implementing a parallel conveying configuration in IPCC systems involves a higher equivalent unit cost (EUC) than a single conveying alternative. Nevertheless, it is estimated that parallel conveyors are capable of providing significantly higher productivity, in the order of 9.4 – 12.6 % increase. Therefore, despite parallel conveyors being a more costly alternative to single conveyor systems, parallel IPCC configurations provide additional value to mining operations by enabling increased production and revenue.