The Keech Wearpact bucket edge system introduced to Chile’s booming copper mining industry 18 months ago is delivering significant cost savings for several operators. One operator is already enjoying potential cost savings of $25,000 a year per underground bucket.
Chile’s copper production growth is expected to double from 3% in 2012 to 6% in the coming year with investment in the sector set to exceed $100 billion in the next 12 years.
According to Keech International Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark Adams, ensuring peak profitability in this growth phase is a major driver behind the number of trials of the Keech Wearpact system in the past 18 months.
A patented ground engaging tool system for underground and open pit mining buckets, the Keech Wearpact bucket edge system was first trialled on two loaders for a mining contractor in Chile. The aim was to extend bucket life from 900 hours to over 2,000 hours. The trial well exceeded expectations, with both buckets currently at 3,200 hours and going strong.
Based on this success, the mine has now fitted the system to another 10 underground loaders, resulting in a conservative annual saving of $300K when one considers the associated labour costs and on-going maintenance of current bucket rebuild methods.
The trial was extended to four other mines, with all enjoying similar results. Given Chile’s projected increase in production, these mines are setting themselves well ahead of the competition when it comes to maximising profitability due to reduced on-going maintenance costs, according to Mark.
With Keech providing on-going maintenance checks for operations using and trialling the Wearpact system, its introduction also has the potential to make a difference to current industry maintenance practices, added Mark.
Keech observed a major difference in the maintenance practices followed by Chilean and Australian mining businesses. Several Chilean mining businesses cited lack of time for on-going bucket maintenance, which meant they were replacing buckets more frequently than their Australian counterparts.
When the Keech Wearpact bucket edge system trials were started, the company made a commitment to work with the industry’s maintenance personnel to provide regular checks at every 200 to 500 hours, enabling them to identify any potential problems well ahead of time, thereby ensuring the system’s longevity, even in tough hard rock mining operations.
Keech expects this level of service coupled with the longevity of the system to lead to an expanded rollout across the country with at least 100 underground loaders fitted with the Wearpact system in the next one year.
Keech Castings (Australia) represents the global organisation in Australia.