Predictive analysis will help ensure reliable operation of critical conveyor system in expansion of world’s largest iron mine
AUSTIN, TEXAS (June 18, 2013) – Vale, one of the largest mining companies in the world, has selected Emerson Process Management’s machinery health technology to help ensure reliable operation of the pit-to-plant conveyor system for its S11D Iron Mining Project in Brazil. The US$12 million award is part of an expansion to Vale’s Carajás Mining Complex, which is the largest single-site producer of iron ore in the world.
“Reliable operation of the conveyor system is critical,” said José Catarino, Vale’s Automation Coordinator for the S11D project. “If it stops working, the mine stops producing. But with Emerson’s online condition-monitoring technology we can predict problems in time to take corrective action while it is most cost-effective.”
Using belt conveyors rather than trucks for the S11D mine is one of the approaches Vale is pioneering in line with the company’s Sustainable Development Policy and its commitment to minimizing environmental impact to the neighboring Carajás National Forest. A complete truckless system of excavators, in-pit mobile crushers, and conveyors will help Vale reduce costs, emissions, and other waste byproducts often associated with operating and maintaining mine haul trucks.
Vale will use Emerson’s CSI 6500 Machinery Health Monitor to monitor 37 kilometers (22 miles) of belt conveyors that transport ore from the mine pit to the processing plant, as well as two crushers and a stacker-reclaimer that are part of the material handling system. Any disruption to this arterial system has the potential to bring the 90-million-tons/year operation to a halt – costing as much as US$1.4 million per hour in lost production.
To help avoid such situations, the CSI 6500 will capture sensor data from key conveyor components such as drives and primary pulleys. Emerson’s PeakVue® technology, which detects emerging fault patterns on low-speed, high-load systems such as conveyors, was a primary factor in Vale’s selection of the online monitoring system because it effectively pinpoints intensifying levels of machinery stress weeks or even months before component failure.
Once production begins in 2016, Vale staff will monitor conveyor health from the mining complex’s operational control center. They will be able to plan maintenance only as needed rather than regularly sending maintenance staff into hazardous areas for routine data collection. The CSI 6500 will also alert them to impending conveyor component failures while there’s still ample time to plan repairs during scheduled downtimes.
“Truckless operation is one of the ways industry leaders like Vale are finding to combine efficient operations with environmental responsibility,” said Alan Novak, metals and mining industry director for Emerson Process Management. “We welcome this opportunity to help them take advantage of today’s technologies to make it possible.”