Working deep underground, mining for the precious natural resources of the Earth can present fierce challenges for workers even with the advancements of modern technology. With the dawn of the first motorized air compressors in the early 1800s, the mining industry has greatly benefited from the improvement of compressed air systems, which have provided value to workers and the development of more efficient methods for resource extraction. Because of the demands and dangers of working underground, or in areas where water can pose a threat, compressed air has been an invaluable source of both energy and safety equipment for the hard-to-reach places were minerals and fossil fuels reside.
The English inventor, George Medhurst,created the first motorized air compressor systemuseful for the mining industry in 1799. By 1852, Isambard K. Brunel expanded upon this use of compressed air with a pressurized caisson, or water tight chamber used in underwater construction. This helped prevent water and mud from entering workspaces when working in waterlogged sites for the construction of bridges. Following these early advancements, Thomas Cochrane, another English engineer, invented a better compressed air rock drill in 1857, that allowed workers to tunnel.
While Cochranes invention was successful,this type of drilling process was first suggested in 1844, and it was nicknamed the wind hammer by another English engineer who saw that traditional steam driven drills were not very reliable. These successes in compressed air-driven machinery promoted years of research and development for the betterment of mining technology. Compressed air also aided in the ventilation of mines early on because it provided a breathable air that was released by the exhaust of the compressed air drills, which also helped cool the atmosphere.
As mining grew and the demand for more consumable natural resources continued, improving ventilation to mining tunnels that expanded further into the earth became increasingly common. Large volumes of air became essential for working in spaces that stretched miles beneath the surface. In addition, air compressors also became a great way for transmitting energy underground.
One of the most famous uses of compressed air in mining comes from the creation of the Mt. Cenis tunnel, which stirred publicity in the newspapers and scientific journals of the late 1800s. With a growing focus on how it could be better utilized, Austrian engineer Viktor Popp helped develop a compressed air network that could provide energy to a variety of industries. His 1,500 kilowatt compressor plant soon expanded to more than 18,000 kilowatts by 1891.
The popularity of compressed air systems grew exponentially from there, and many engineers hurried to make improvements and file patents for new machines and tools. The development of electric and pneumatic energy sources from compressed air systems continued to boom over the remainder of the 20th Century, cementing itself as the valuable industrial resource we see today.
In the modern age, a range of different, complex compressor systems are now available, specifically designed for tasks both big and small. Designs are also varying, including portable, vehicle mounted and larger industrial compressor types. Air compressors used in the mining industry differ depending on their purpose and the demand requirements needed for the task.
In this short guide, we will take a look at some of the common uses and considerations for selecting the compressor system that will most benefit your mining operation. Selecting the right compressor to meet your needs can help increase productivity and serve to lower energy costs.
Mining is an expansive industry that stretches across the world, with a focus on a vast number of different natural resources. From the coal mining operations of the American Appalachians to the diamond-rich mines of South Africa, extracting the planets most valuable, useful and beautiful natural resources comes with a level of inherent risk, both financially and in worker safety.
Underground mines can stretch for miles below Earths surface, which poses unique challenges when trying to achieve efficient resource extraction and safety for your work crew. Modern mining processes rely on enhancements in safety equipment, as well as consideration for reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Mining companies depend on high-quality equipment to provide longevity in performance and in reliability. Through the use of industrial air compressor systems, electric and pneumatic tools are used in drilling, material handling, transportation, mineral extraction and complex ventilation systems. Selecting a compressor that is built to withstand the wear and tear of mining, as well as stand up to the demands of continued use in the long term is important for your bottom line. Depending on the resources desired, compressed air needs may vary in mining operations.
While underground compressors may be needed for some mining processes, which can reduce the need for complex piping systems and lower the amount of leakage, it is more common to find compressors at the surface, which reticulate compressed air through the use of steel pipes.
Compressed air is used as an energy source frequently in mining because of its flexibility over the use of diesel and electric power in locations underground. However, low capacity applications such as drilling short holes, pumping and pneumatic tools such as wrenches and saws are more commonly used with compressed air systems at sites. In some cases, compressed air may be used in ventilation systems. Ventilation is important in all situations, especially ones where methane can build since it can be easily ignited by a spark of static electricity.
It is imperative that all compressed air systems or equipment used in these situations are specifically designed to prevent static electricity build-up and are grounded properly. This includes hoses, which can be made of fire retardant and anti-static materials. In addition to being more restrictive in terms of availability, underground compressors can also become fire hazards, which is why surface compressors are more often used.
While compressed air is indeed a valuable resource in mining, it can also be costly, especially if leaks are not addressed, and proper maintenance is not conducted routinely on the system.Up to 20 percent of the total costs of underground miningcan come directly from compressed air. In addition, nearly 20 to 40 percent of all energy costs for compressed mining can be from compressed air usage.
The costs of compressed air can be high if the system is not running efficiently because of the amount of electrical horsepower needed just to generate one HP of compressed air. On average, anywhere betweenseven to eight HP of electrical power to produce just one HPof compressed air power. Additionally, only about19 percent of the total power usedin a compressed air system is converted into compressed air flow. The other 81 percent is lost as heat.
If you combine that with any leaks in your mining operation, the costs could rise substantially, which is why system efficiency is so important in reducing your overall expenditures. Researchers found that up to70 percent of compressed air usageis wasted in leaks for certain underground mining operations. In some cases, a single half-inch diameter leak could contribute to annual loss of more than $12,800 for a one shift operation. In addition, the numbers could range near $48,000 for a three-shift operation. Even a single, tiny leak in an entire system that measures 1/16 of an inch could result in a $750 loss annually.
Routine maintenance and proper inspections of your compressed air system can help minimize these leaks. In most typical operations studied, wasted energy costs nearing $100,000 annually have been attributed to inefficiency in compressed air systems. By creating a maintenance and leak management program for your mining operation, you can have qualified professionals inspect and conduct any necessary repairs to help mitigate these types of expenses over the long term.
Also, a more efficient system benefits the longevity of an air compressor by lowering pressure demands as it puts less strain on the machines parts. Maintaining correct operating pressure will reduce your service costs as well since its likely less maintenance will be needed.
Unfortunately, leaks can develop at any point in a compressor system, but there are particular factors that could cause them in mining operations. Exposed air piping that encounters frequent vibrations or impacts are more likely to develop leaks.
Piping that is joined using grooved, mechanical fittings may develop leaks if not assembled properly, too. Another factor may be the geographic make up of the mining site. It is important that piping is adaptable to the different variations at the mine. If assemblies of fittings are not installed properly, gaskets can become sources of air leaks. Pipe couplings are one of the most common sources of air leaks, and they can contribute to significant air loss over time. Fortunately, solving this issue is fairly easy and cost effective. Routine replacement of fittings and couplings can help minimize downtime and reduce energy losses. Lubricating gaskets can also prevent pinching and make for proper installation.
Another issue involving gaskets comes from their deterioration over time. In some cases, the material used in the gasket is not made for the demands of the mining operation. Researching the best grade for use can help reduce the degradation of vital gaskets and prevent long-term losses resulting from a leaking piping system.
While taking these problem areas into account may resolve some simpler issues, it still does not guarantee all the challenges of managing a compressed air system used in mining. Leaks can occur anywhere in a system, making it imperative that all points are properly inspected through routine leak prevention management.
In addition to checking for leaks, simple steps can also help save money each year. Turning compressors off when the system is not in use is a simple, but effective step in reducing energy expenditures. By implementing a comprehensive maintenance program and using compressed air properly, you can see an immediate cost savings on your investment.
For demanding applications, a tough air compressor system that can meet your requirements in needed. At Quincy Compressor, we offer reliability and some of the industrys strongest warranties. Our products are engineered to last for decades and are built with durability in mind. For the heavy-duty use and harsh environments of the mining industry, Quincy compressors can deliver the compressed air demands needed to power tools, equipment and ventilation systems critical to your operation. We also offer a diverse line of accessories to complement your compressor system, and we can work with you directly to provide the very best fit for your business.
From the Gobi Desert in Central Asia, to Bingham Canyon in the southwestern United States, to diamond-rich mines in South Africa, the mining industry is one of the largest in the world. Every day 24 hours a day mining operations work to extract the Earths most precious minerals and natural resources. Gold, diamonds, platinum, titanium, coal, chrome and zinc are only some of the sought-after minerals and resources.
Working in both surface-level and underground mines many of which can stretch for miles presents harsh and unforgiving environments. When working to extract these precious minerals and natural resources, as well as maintain safety for work crews, mining companies rely on durable, energy-efficient and safe mining equipment. Compressed air is an important source of power in nearly all mining operations. Mining companies often rely on industrial compressed air systems or portable air compressors for electric and pneumatic tools.
Most mines utilize more than one compressor. Some compressed air systems consist of more than one compressor station, otherwise known as a compressor house. The compressed air generated is distributed across the mine via an extensive piping network some of these pipe sections span up to 40 kilometers (25 miles). The surface piping network is also sometimes referred to as a compressed air ring.
The heavy-duty use and harsh environments of the mining industry require compressed air equipment capable of withstanding such use. The Sullair oil-flooded rotary screw air compressors and portable air compressors are recommended to the mining industry to provide a reliable air flow to power tools, equipment and ventilation systems critical to mining operations around the world.
Diesel engine,radiator coolingBelt driver compressorAir displacement(m/min):4.0Exhaust pressure(Mpa):0.5Cyinder(Dia.Qty):120*4Diesel engine(HP):22Tank capacity:240LWeightkg):700Pump lubricated with oil With Electric Start Packed by wood box
Air consumption65L/SDrilling Frequency37HZAir pipe inner Diameter25MMWater pipe inner Diameter13MMDrilling Hole Diameter32-45MMDrilling Depth5MShank Size:22*108mmAir pressure:0.4- 0.63MpaSize:659*248*205mmWeight :26.5 KGPacked in carton box
There is a growing concern on mining related safety and health issues and disabling accidents especially in areas still practicing compressor mining even if the law does not allow this type of mining activity. In areas where small-scale mining entities practice unregulated compressor mining, there is insufficient data on the number of deaths and accidents that occurred mainly attributed to under reporting. Compressor mining requires a diver staying inside the hole for at least four hours and depends only on a compressor for his supply of oxygen. The harvested mud with gold ores goes through sluicing and use of mercury to obtain gold. Findings from the assessment showed that the miners do not follow safety measures in mining. Likewise, miners lack the motivation to comply with safety standards mainly due to financial challenges as well as their attitude. The Government plays an important role in providing interventions needed to address these concerns.
The authors acknowledge the support provided by the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program of the Department of Science and Technology and spearheaded by the UP College of Engineering. The data requirements gathered for this study was made possible through the ERDT Mineral Extraction with Responsibility and Sustainability (MINERS) Program, Project G, entitled: The Gold and Copper Chase (Life Cycle Analysis of Sustainable Small-Scale Production Systems).