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Time to get smart about saving fuel

With diesel prices at an all-time high and the prospects of relief dwindling as the Ukrainian war crises drags on, it is time for surface miners to adopt new ways of saving fuel and managing fleets.

While many of the premium equipment and vehicle distributors offer comprehensive telematics systems to optimise productivity and save fuel, it is still possible to use manual methods to gather most of the information and attain similar successes.

Nico Pienaar of surface mining industry association, ASPASA, says the cost of diesel is becoming prohibitive and placing new and marginally profitable mines at great risk due to shrinking margins. Sand and aggregate mines are particularly hard hit as they operate on a high-volume low mark-up basis.

“Surface mines will need to put special provisions in place to save diesel or be faced with the prospect of passing excessive costs onto their customers. Although there is no single solution that fits all applications every little bit helps and every initiative to save fuel counts. Rather than leaving it to chance, we advise to rather document fuel saving initiatives and turn these procedures into policy.”

Here are just ten interventions to get the ball rolling:
  1. Responsible persons should spend time watching the processes in operation in order to gauge effectiveness of equipment deployed
  2. Ensure static machinery such as crushers are running efficiently and that feeds are kept at an optimal level.
  3. Look for worn or damaged surfaces that may be slowing the movement of material through the entire process.
  4. Deal with bottlenecks and choose to either park plant equipment or stockpile material rather than trickle suppling crushers, screens etc.
  5. Use the correct equipment for the job in order to ensure the fastest and most efficient methods are used.
  6. Adhere to OEM maintenance requirements of trackless mobile machines, excavators and drill rigs and undertake daily maintenance checks.
  7. Ensure proper maintenance of roads and access roads to ensure free flowing traffic and faster return cycles.
  8. Limit idle times and ensure operators are well versed in the most efficient and fastest ways of extracting and loading minerals.
  9. Match excavators and loading equipment with the dumpers at the mine to minimise the number of passes required.
  10. Ensure ground engaging tools are adequate for the current ground conditions and that they are not worn out.

“While these points are by no means exhaustive they do serve as a starting point to initiate fuel saving. Apart from improving efficiency it is also wise to store fuel in suitable locations. Check for leaks and make use of level meters and sensors to pinpoint losses due to environmental factors, leakage and theft,” Nico concludes.

 

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