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Sticky materials require expert design at transfer points in processing plants

Home Transport & Logistics Materials Handling Sticky materials require expert design at transfer points in processing plants

HANDLING sticky material in mining and minerals processing plants can be a complex challenge. These materials can cause blockages, equipment wear and increased maintenance requirements, leading to reduced efficiency and increased operational costs.

This is according to the technical director at Weba Chute Systems, Alwin Nienaber, who says that designing transfer points to effectively handle sticky materials is crucial for optimising material flow and minimizing downtime. “There are a number of key design considerations for transfer points and it is for this reason that EPCM contractors and end-users should work closely with specialist companies such as ourselves who have the requisite expertise and legacy knowledge to deal with complicated materials transfer.”

An important consideration is material flow control, which Nienaber explains is crucial to avoid blockages and build-up of sticky materials within chute systems.

“This is where chute geometry plays a significant role in handling sticky materials, with experience informing the design of a chute to minimise impact forces and reduce material degradation. Minimising is also important, and this can be achieved through the use of wear-resistant materials such as ceramic tiles or rubber linings, and further extend the service life of transfer points while reducing maintenance requirements,” he says.

Nienaber says it is also important to control moisture levels when handling sticky materials. Excessive moisture can exacerbate the stickiness of materials, leading to increased build-up and blockages. Implementing moisture control strategies, such as proper drainage systems, dust suppression or material conditioning systems, can help maintain optimal moisture levels and improve material flow.

Material segregation and excessive particle size can also contribute to sticky material challenges at transfer points. This, he says, is where implementing strategies to minimise material segregation, such as proper stockpile management and the use of blending systems, can help maintain consistent material properties.

“Additionally, reducing particle size through controlled crushing or screening can help improve material flow and reduce the stickiness of the material,” Nienaber adds.

Viewing transfer points holistically should also include attention to other aspects of materials handling such as belt cleaning systems which are vital for preventing carryback and will also reduce material build-up at transfer points. Installing primary and secondary belt cleaners, along with belt tracking systems, can ensure that belts are free from sticky material carryback. This not only reduces the chances of blockages but also minimises belt wear and extends belt life.

“Implementing well-thought-out design strategies from an experienced transfer point OEM can certainly assist mining and minerals processing operations to optimise material flow, reduce equipment wear and maintenance requirements, and ultimately improve overall efficiency and productivity,” Nienaber concludes.

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