Helping small-scale and artisanal mining to fulfil their potential

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Access, affordable, accessible: these are the three tenets of a conveyor system suitable for all mining operations, explains Darracq Shawe

Artisanal and small-scale mining still accounts for a huge chunk of global gold mining output. In Africa alone, that number is almost 20% of the entire national figure. Yet many of these operations struggle to fulfil the potential of their resources.

Problem 1: Affordability

The first barrier is, as is so often the case, cost. These small concerns lack the capital to invest or reinvest in better equipment to help them make the most of their ore. This is a circular problem because without the means to improve, many ASM operations struggle to even meet their operational costs. It is this hand-to-mouth existence that prevents them from climbing the financial ladder. Cost is also a factor in the second problem: access.

Problem 2: Access 

Due to their nature, many smaller operations exist in remote locations that are further isolated thanks to poor infrastructure. Without the means to invest, either in better roads or in improving physical natural barriers such as dense woodlands, gradients and the like, these smaller concerns once again struggle to reach their true potential. The poor infrastructure can also leave them at the mercy of unscrupulous transport companies that they rely on to ship their ore. 

Problem 3: Accessible 

The third problem is accessibility to practical solutions. These ‘one man band’ operations lack the opportunity to try out new technologies or gain the guidance of experienced engineers and other experts. Their remote locations, lack of voice and tight budgets often hold them back from practical solutions. 

These were the concerns that a team of experts felt the industry needed to address, and for those reasons they developed the mine-spec Miniveyor. The team behind the product knew that for these miners and thousands like them around the world, tweaking existing processes could not deliver the changes they needed to propel them out of poverty. Miniveyor is about more than small-scale mining, but by focusing on its effectiveness for those operations, it is easy to see the potential elsewhere. 

Alternative ore removal system with Miniveyor

Safe, efficient and low-cost ore (or waste) removal that does not require extensive training, massive disruption or a huge investment to install is of obvious benefit to any of the small-scale operations described above. However, this temporary conveyor system also has clear benefits to any operation that is looking for a modular solution to a rapidly changing face or a site with significant environmental concerns. 

Mining operations all over the world use Miniveyor’s easy-to-operate modular conveyor system to great success in a variety of applications. It can move up to 30 tonnes per hour (60 tonnes if run as a duplex system). This gives the system a potential 390 tonne operating capacity over a typical 6.5-hour cleaning shift. Those numbers are a potential game-changer to an artisan mine, but are remarkably rosy regardless of the size of the operation. 

Low-profile modular conveyor system

At 52cm wide and 20cm high and suitable for ground mounting, Miniveyor can also clean-up spillage under chutes, transfer points and main production belts. 

Ideal for flat end development clearing and for anyone working in confined space environments, it is easy to transport. The system is man portable and can easily be carried into place and set-up quickly. 

The Miniveyor is good for numbers 

In operations using Miniveyor, productivity increases in almost every case and at the same time manual handling and health and safety incidents plummet.

Compared to LHD or scraper systems Miniveyor is an elegant alternative. Installing the modular conveyors requires minimal labour and the system’s flexibility is impressive. Best of all, it advances with the development faces – leaving fixed conveyors behind.  

The modular conveyor system allows seamless, uniform transfer of the material to the centre gully. As opposed to scrapers or LHDs, Miniveyor can move a high percentage of ore, particularly fines that are deemed to be carrying higher value than the larger fraction. 

Miniveyor allows continuous and uniform transfer of material to the delivery point allowing for downstream efficiencies. The modular conveyor system also won’t contaminate the ore material with toxic hydraulic, driveline oils, rubber, or other detritus (tyre chain links, etc.), meaning the system is more reliable than traditional options. 
The conveyor system also means that there’s less need for the current dimensions of the advance strike gulleys (ASGs). 

Is the Miniveyor the ultimate solution for small-scale and artisanal mining companies?

Ultimately, Miniveyor provides an accessible, affordable option for operations concerned about access. It means lower costs and it requires a materially reduced gulley profile (particularly the depth of the gulley) compared to conventional gully cleaning systems. Above all else, the system offers any operation the chance to up its output while lowering the head cost per tonne by as much as 20%.

Darracq Shawe is director of Minveyor Products

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