Lifecycle Management

Improving efficiency underground: Seven top areas to evaluate

Underground hard rock mines present some of the most challenging conditions for mining operations. Despite these challenges, underground miners are always on the lookout for ways to improve loading and haulage performance to lower cost per ton.

There are seven top areas to evaluate when looking to improve efficiency in underground hard rock operations:

  1. Machine / system sizing and selection. Is the loader matched to the truck? Is the LHD the right size for the job?
  2. Material density for body and bucket selection. If material is heavy and hard to get through, a smaller bucket may be the best choice as the machine can cycle faster. Material density also affects the durability of buckets and bodies.
  3. Operating techniques. Are operators properly trained? Are they working efficiently? Study cycle times and evaluate their loading and hauling performance and ensure they are achieving optimal pass match.
  4. Haul road design and maintenance. Even small improvements can have a big impact on cycle times. Grade should be smooth and constant with rolling resistance kept to a minimum. In addition to affecting speed, rolling resistance can also cause a varying load on the engine and impact the machine’s transmission.
  5. Payload targets / accuracy. Do you know the payload in the truck? Is the loader bucket full? Proper load placement is critical not only to productivity but also to the health of the equipment. Target payload based on the manufacturer’s recommended specifications. 
  6. Blasting. Is the muck blasted properly, so operators can single-pass load their bucket in less than 12 seconds?
  7. Site conditions. Underground trucks and loaders perform best in areas where floors are level, dry, smooth and firm. Ensure sufficient drainage and well-fragmented materials that minimize crowding time.

Caterpillar provides the broadest line of surface & underground mining equipment in the industry. View our wide range of mining products including mining trucks, hydraulic mining shovels, rotary drills and motor graders.

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