Mining coal is an around the clock operation with mines working 24/7 to efficiently produce the commodity. Companies are investing millions to mitigate the impacts on local communities.
At a recent mine site visit, Moolarben Coal told Australian Mining it was operating within noise compliancy conditions but continued community feedback prompted further research into ways to improve the levels of noise coming from the mine.
The company found that noise from first pass loading operations were causing concern in the community.
To this end the company teamed up with Komatsu and Duratray to implement a solution for its 218 tonne truck fleet that would help to reduce noise impacts.
Duratray provided Moolarben with a specific design body which reduced loading noise while till maintaining truck efficiency.
Unlike regular truck bodies, Duratray’s suspended dump body is designed to reduce loading noise, with all trucks fitted with non-standard sound attenuated kits.
During trials a Duratray body was retro-fitted to a Komatsu 830E haul truck in late 2012.
Not only did the new bodies reduce loading noises by up to 10 decibels, but it was found that payloads were also increased, improving productivity and efficiency at the mine.
The bodies are able to carry 20-27 metrics tonnes, more than the mine was producing before, reduces vibration jarring for the operator and reduces spillages.
Duratray’s SDB is comprised of rubber wall and floor liners; the floor is supported by elastomeric ropes that are connected to a steel frame. These materials dampen the noise when rock is dropped into the tray.
Moolarben Coal general manager John Blanning said the seven-month trial was a success.
“The initial Suspended Dump Body trial successfully delivered a notable measurable benefit of noise reduction during loading of adverse hard rock materials,” he said.
With the success of the first trial the company invested $2 million to purchase four new SBDs to fit the fleet of Komastu haul trucks.
Dubbed the ‘stealth fleet’, Blanning said the new trucks, set to start operation at the mine in the coming weeks, would set a ‘new benchmark’ for environmental noise reduction impacts on the community.
General manager of mining for Komatsu, Leo Kaloglou said collaboration and innovation were key in delivering the new machines.
“The success of the noise reduction trial at Moolarben is due to strong engineering and project collaboration between Moolarben, Komatsu and Duratray, and delivers a very positive outcome for all stakeholders,” he said.