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Sudbury Mining Solutions

Sustainable Development

Idling alternative cuts diesel consumption

An energy saving idea shared by Barrick Gold’s Hemlo operation at an Ontario Mining Association energy workshop in 2007 is paying off big time for Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM) unit in Timmins.

Mario Lachance, Goldcorp PGM’s maintenance general foreman had no use for the idea at the time, but seized on it a few years later when a decision was made to haul stockpiled ore from the Pamour open pit to the company’s processing plant 13 kilometres away. Normally, haul trucks carrying a full load of ore would have to be parked after four hours of service to let the tires cool down, but in winter, when the thermometer dips to below freezing, the trucks would have to idle, consuming diesel the whole time.Due to the four-hour rotation, a fleet of 10 to 12 trucks would mean five or six units idling in a parking area outside the processing plant at any one time.

Six trucks burning diesel at 30 litres an hour would have translated into 4,320 litres of diesel a day. At 72 cents a litre, Lachance calculated a daily cost of $3,110.40. Assuming a 100-day winter season, the annual cost to Goldcorp’s PGM unit would have been a whopping $311,040.

The solution borrowed from Barrick’s Hemlo operation was the Proheat X45 coolant heater, a small heater that uses diesel from the fuel tank on the truck to keep the coolant warm and recirculate it through the engine.

Fifteen Proheat X45s – for the 12-truck fleet and ancillary equipment – cost Goldcorp approximately $84,000. The payback was just 24 days.

In addition to saving money, the company is cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, prolonging engine life and extending service intervals on the equipment.

“By shutting down the equipment, you’re not accumulating hours, so you’re reducing your preventative maintenance and increasing the life of your components,” said Lachance.

The Proheat X45 keeps the engine and operator cab toasty, a plug-in trickle charger keeps the battery alive and a hydraulic heater element warms the hydraulic oil. When a driver climbs into the cab for the start of a four-hour rotation, it could be a frigid minus 20 degrees Celsius outside, but the cab is nice and comfortable and the 12-cylinder engine roars to life.

Beyond minus 20 degrees C., the trucks have to be kept idling, said Lachance.

The Proheat X45 coolant heaters are more commonly used in the forest industry, where equipment in the bush would otherwise have to idle at night and over the weekend when not in use.

The units experienced some premature coolant pump failures in the early going, but the supplier, I&M Electric of Thunder Bay, eventually equipped them with more robust pumps.

After two years of operation, the Proheat X45s are replaced because they’re used so much, said Lachance.


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Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal is printed quarterly -- March, June, September and December. Circulation includes distribution to mining executives, consultants, suppliers, distributors, government officials and opinion leaders across Canada and around the world.

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