Teamwork solves scaling and bolting problems
Teamwork by Rock-Tech Sales and Service and Goldcorp have helped to solve scaling and bolting problems at the latter’s Musselwhite Mine in northwestern Ontario.
Rock-Tech’s recent sale of a BTI DS25-III scaler to Goldcorp has reduced the mine’s maintenance costs on its rock-bolting equipment and shortened its mining cycle.
“The key for us is finding a solution for the customer with the right application,” said Mike Mayhew, Rock-Tech’s vice-president.
Scalers are still relatively new for underground hard rock mining, said Dan Lemieux, Rock-Tech’s general manager. They are designed to break loose fractured rock on the back and sidewalls during mine development. Prior to mechanized mobile scalers, scaling was either performed manually with men using scaling bars on scissor lifts, or by mechanized bolters, which was not their intended purpose.
Based in Sudbury, Rock-Tech distributes and services surface and underground mining equipment, offering on-site service, commissioning and operator training. They also manufacture oil and fuel products such as the satellite fuel stations for underground mining applications. Boasting more than 90 years of experience within the ownership group, the company specializes in the underground mining industry and understands the applications required for optimal productivity.
Rock-Tech and Goldcorp spent 18 months studying how they could reduce the maintenance costs on their bolters and shorten the mining cycle. They discovered that the bottleneck was the bolting process because bolters were performing a dual role: scaling and bolting. “We have a bunch of mechanical bolter units that were doing a lot of the scaling for us by rattling the back with the drill rods,” explained Jeff Lewicky, Musselwhite mine superintendent. “It was taking a long time and costing us a lot of money on maintenance. Rock bolters were not designed to scale.”
After touring some mines in the upper midwestern United States that were using scalers, Lewicky said they felt the application would work for their mine. As of early April, the scaler had been used for six weeks and was making a difference.
“We’ve reduced our bolting time from six or seven hours to three or four hours,” Lewicky said, adding they are scaling four rounds (headings) per shift, despite the fact that a lot of the faces are spread out, requiring travel time between jobs.
It is anticipated the company will save money in maintenance costs on their bolters now that the machines are executing the job they were designed to do, one of the main reasons the mine purchased the scaler.
One of the newer features on the DS25-III scaler is the patented vibratory pick scaling head at the end of the boom. A small hammer inside vibrates as the pry-point head turns the vibratory pick into a pry-bar. Not unlike a bird’s beak, a cylinder allows the pivoting head to “peck” away at the rock at all angles, removing loose material. The boom can extend to cover an area up to nine metres high and 10 metres wide.
Fewer moving components means there are fewer parts to break down, increasing the product’s reliability. Improved ergonomics of the cab allows greater visibility and more comfort for the operator.
The unit’s mobility means it can go to multiple levels, which helps maximize productivity within the mining cycle.
BTI (Breaker Technology Inc.), a southern Ontario-based company, manufactures a range of products for mine, quarry and construction applications as well as demolition equipment. They are well recognized for their full line of underground utility vehicles, including mobile scalers. Rock-Tech has been a BTI distributor since 1999, and has the market rights for scalers from Ontario to the Maritimes.
Tagged Breaker Technology Inc., BTI, Canada, Dan Lemieux, DS25-III scaler, Goldcorp, Greater Sudbury, Jeff Lewicky, Mike Mayhew, Mining, Musselwhite, Musselwhite Mine, Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Business, Ontario, Rock-Tech Sales and Service Corp., Sudbury, vibratory pick