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Focus on operating costs and sustainability: Siemens ensures greater efficiency in opencast mining with integrated solution packages

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

With its all-inclusive solution packages for the mining industry, Siemens offers companies new ways of reducing their investment and operating costs and making production more efficient. “We combine drive technology and power supply with automation and mechanical aspects to create new solutions that have fewer interfaces and are less complex,” explained Bernd Zehentbauer, head of business administration for Siemens Mining Technologies at the 3rd international “Media Summit Metals and Mining Technologies” fair of the company in Moscow. This reduces the level of investment and is setting new standards when it comes to operating costs. “Our goal is to ensure the profitability of mining facilities and the sustainability in the area of opencast mining in an economically difficult environment,” emphasized Zehentbauer.
During the last few months, the global slump in iron and steel production has led to a steep drop in the prices of raw materials. This development is presenting the mining industry with diverse new challenges in view of the fact that, more and more frequently, earnings are no longer able to cover production costs. This is resulting in the postponement or cut-back of investments for new or expansion projects and, in some cases, active mines are actually being shut down. “Companies throughout the world have reduced their planned investment for the coming years by US$200 billion,” said Zehentbauer, describing the situation on the market. He went on to point out that demand can be expected to recover in the medium term, but that the current challenge was to keep facilities running with reduced investment budgets while simultaneously cutting the operating costs and improving competitiveness. At the same time, he said, wider-ranging environmental protection regulations and a growing need for energy were making production more expensive.
Siemens sees potential for the reduction of costs in drive systems and power supply, safety in opencast mining operations and the mining and transport of ore. “We are using our process knowledge and integrating electrical systems, automation technology and machines in order to create reproducible, standardized products,” explained Zehentbauer. “This integration from a single source provides new ways to protect the investment of our customers, to improve the productivity, availability and efficiency of their plants, to optimize power consumption and to fulfill environmental requirements such as the reduction of water consumption and CO2 emissions.”
An example of this is a new AC drive system developed by Siemens for the heavy trucks which are used to transport material in opencast mining. It means that vehicles can carry payloads of 260 metric tons and more. The diesel-electric drive system not only reduces environmental pollution but also saves fuel and lowers operating costs. The new Siemens drive systems are being used for the first time in the 860E-1K truck made by Komatsu.
Siemens is currently acting as the general contractor for the erection of a 13.5-kilometer-long conveyor belt system for transporting coal in the Reichwalde opencast mine in Saxony, Germany. The conveyor belt system can carry around 6,000 metric tons per hour and consists of four stationary conveyor belts as well as two mobile belts with drive stations with crawler travel gear. Siemens is responsible for the engineering of the entire system as well as for the supply and installation of the electrical equipment, automation system and mechanical components. This means fewer interfaces, lower maintenance expenditure and reduced spare part storage.
Another example of a solution package from Siemens for the mining industry is a new flotation method for the separation of different metal components of an ore. Compared to conventional methods, this technique not only reduces power consumption but also lowers operating costs, for example in copper mines. Owing to the successful commissioning of the first pilot system in the Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile, a second flotation cell has now been installed there. It is characterized by exceptional flotability of very fine particles, an ability to concentrate which is up to four times higher, and low power consumption.
For further information visit: www.siemens.com/mining

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