Iron Miners
It is currently Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:49 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 95 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: MINES WITH TRACKS
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 10:37 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:21 am
Posts: 179
Location: United States
Group,

It's been a while since we last talked about this. I was wondering if anyone has any new information.

On Friday I received my copy of the annual report from Hecla which I own some shares in in my IRA. Looks to me like NONE of Hecla's mines are using rail haulage. I am still having trouble seeing the economic advantages to trackless mining. For one thing, trackless mining requires HUGE underground drifts to allow trucks to negotiate. Ventilation is a major issue. Plus, you can still get more ore in a train than in a truck - even a large truck.

And, get this - the president who wrote the shareholder's letter stated that he believes that the future belongs to autonomous, battery powered trucks. Huh? Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier to get to battery-powered vehicles and autonomous operation by using rail haulage?

I just don't understand this. I'd love to write this guy an e-mail if I can find an address for him!

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: MINES WITH TRACKS
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 3:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 1:54 am
Posts: 10
Location: SE Missouri
The infrastructure and equipment maintenance for rail mining is a pain, and safely operating rail equipment in confined drifts compounds the issue. Way too many pinch points between cars and the rib...MSHA hates pinch-point accidents. Trucks and LHDs are better for short-ish haul distances, less stuff to keep up. Your drifts, while larger, take less upkeep when you only need to run a few utility lines, vent tube, lighting, and a serviceable road surface.

I've spoken with some of the guys running the Doe Run lead complex in Iron and Reynolds County, MO, and they've got standard-gauge (yes, 4' 8" standard-gauge rail, 1300ft underground!) rail haulage on a sublevel below the orebody at the Buick and Sweetwater mines. I believe that Fletcher and Brushy Creek may also have a rail haulage component, but I am not positive. These mines are all interconnected stope-and-pillar jobs with 50-foot-plus back height; you can travel around thirty miles without setting foot on the surface.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: MINES WITH TRACKS
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 7:57 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:21 am
Posts: 179
Location: United States
Headframe Hunter,

Those are really good comments but I remain skeptical about the wisdom of using trackless mining in all applications. I recently stumbled over an interesting article on the subject that I will attempt to copy and past here. The article is about 3 years old but it is still worth making note of in my opinion.

Here it goes:

"Rail cars have long held a close association with mining. In fact, when looking back at movies or cartoons where mining is represented, there’s likely a bunch of open-top mine rail cars somewhere in the picture.

Rail-Make

With the development of trackless machinery, however, a decline in rail use for mining has created a small disconnect between the popular image of labyrinthine mines lined with rail cars and how mines are evolving in reality. Rail took a backseat as low, stubby, purpose-built mine utility vehicles became more commonplace.

According to some experts, however, that trend might soon be reversed. Talking to Mining Weekly, Attie Claassen, contract manager for the South African railway and civil engineering contractor Loning Hill Properites, expressed this opinion:

Underground rail networks used to transport mined materials may be poised for future growth, owing to the high cost of trackless machinery and other alternative transport methods.
This shift in perspective comes as a result of a better understanding of the expenses associated with using trackless machinery. While many mines in South Africa attempted to make a push to establish trackless mining in the resource-rich country, the issue of cost quickly became too much to overlook. This has led some mines to consider reverting to the proven technology of rail haulage.

According to Claassen, “a correctly installed rail system has been proven to far outweigh its initial capital investment, and is, therefore, ‘the way to go’”.

Added to the proven advantages of underground rail networks, advances to the design and manufacturing of different underground rail cars have made reverting back to rail even more desirable.

Despite a decline in popularity, manufacturers like Wabi Iron & Steel Corp. have kept up their rail haulage manufacturing and development processes. The improved rail car technology that has resulted competes favourably versus trackless machinery in terms of cost, reliability, productivity and durability.

As the advantages of rail haulage continue to make their way back into the spotlight, it’s likely that the prospect will keep looking golden for the tried and tested mine ore car."

Here is the URL but you will probably have to copy and paste it into your browser:

http://www.wabicorp.com/prospect-looks- ... dvantages/



Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: MINES WITH TRACKS
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:28 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 1:54 am
Posts: 10
Location: SE Missouri
For long, fixed haulage routes, I believe it. The issue comes with rapidly-moving faces. Now, in something like cut-and-fill, SLOS, or block caving, rail haulage makes a lot of sense. Your LHD mucks out the drift, dumps the muck down an ore pass, and an ore chute at the bottom loads it onto a train. There are certain mining methods for which rail haulage makes the most sense, but not all deposits are suitable for these methods. There is a reason that St. Joe went trackless in its MVT room-and-pillar lead mines as early as 1950.

Don't hold your breath, but I may be in and around a few tracked mines tomorrow courtesy of the owners. I'm not sure about underground, but ore cars are present on the surface.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: MINES WITH TRACKS
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:21 am
Posts: 179
Location: United States
Headframe,

I think you're right about the length of the haul. That is surely one consideration. Line-haul also affects standard gauge railroads. It's the reason why rail is the most economical way to move stuff from Chicago to Los Angeles but not from Chicago to Cleveland.

Covenience is another consideration. Large trucks can be used both inside the mine and perform other tasks on the outside. But there might be another economic factor that's a strike against rail. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here but I suspect large, organized labor might have an impact. Most unionized shops have different crafts that perform different kinds of work. Could it be that in a large mine they have to have a rail craft to run the trains and another craft to maintain the tracks? I don't know for sure but I tend to suspect this. If that were true, doing away with rail would also eliminate those positions and cut costs.

A guy on another mining group told me that many mines today still use a lot of rail "but only in the smaller mines". Coincidence? Smaller mines tend to be non-union. The Original 16 to 1 Mine in California still makes heavy use of rail. I don't know for sure but I suspect they are non-union.

In some very small mines, "four wheelers" are preferred because the miners don't want to hand-push the ore cars and yet their mines may not be big enough to justify investment in a battery powered trammer.

But in the end, the HUGE drifts that have to be bored out and stabilized to permit underground trucks combined with rising costs of that motorized equipment, might just tip the balance back to rail. Sometimes things go in a cycle. One rep from a mining equipment company assured me that there are still "plenty of mines" in North America using rail. He seemed to be optimistic about the future of "mines with tracks".

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 95 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group