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Minerals handling system targets obsolete coal and ore chutes

The Chute Technology engineering group, comprising of three Principal Partners, is bringing together their individual skills and experience to devise solutions for coal and ore chute systems.

Chute Technology is targeting problems prevalent in many coal and ore plants and loading systems caused due to obsolete designs, by addressing them with a combination of three skill sets, including advanced engineering analysis of flow, 3D Discrete Element Method (DEM) design processes and custom manufacturing to individual plant needs.

Chute Technology combines the local and international manufacturing experience of T.W. Woods, represented by Director Tom Woods, the broad engineering and technology experience of Engineering Consultant Dennis Pomfret of Dennis Pomfret Engineering, and Design Engineer Gary Telford of McKajj Services, which contributes extensive project management, engineering and drafting experience.

The three Principal Partners in Chute Technology have a combined experience of more than 80 years in a wide variety of resource industries including coal, iron ore, alumina and limestone across Australia, the USA, South America and South Africa.

This group has introduced a new generation of coal and ore materials handling technology to Australasian and international markets, engineering chutes and complementary systems to permit faster conveyor belt speeds, greater throughputs, fewer breakdowns and enhanced safety. The technologies are also applicable to gold, nickel and other bulk minerals and ores.

Mr Woods traces problems associated with existing chute designs to their obsolescence, with few companies having felt the need to take advantage of innovations now available with advancing technology and knowledge. However, the rising production volumes are badly impacting the performance and reliability of existing chute designs with the equipment breaking down incessantly, even within weeks, slowing up production with downtime and repairs.

He notes Australian and international producers with high output targets are becoming more aware of the underlying problems that are becoming starkly apparent through breakdowns, downtime, problems with sticky material throughput, and spillage creating clean-up and safety issues.

Mr Woods adds that these problems should no longer be considered ‘inevitable’, attributing the situation to plain inefficiency in correcting a rectifiable issue with focused design and smarter manufacturing.

Major benefits of the chute design technologies have already been demonstrated in service with a West Australian iron ore producer who has been able to increase production by 50 per cent, amounting to several million tons. Many Hunter Valley coal mines are also benefitting from less wear and fewer breakdowns because of practical individualised designs produced by one of the partners in Chute Technology, long-established Hunter Valley mining industry supplier T.W. Woods.

According to Mr Woods, Chute Technology brings together a combination of skills unique in the marketplace that are vital to solving typical mineral processing issues including reducing wear, removing bottlenecks caused by clogging, minimising damaging impacts on belts and optimising operational safety and efficiency by curbing breakdowns and clean-ups.

Focussing on the design, manufacture and optimisation of materials handling systems, Chute Technology’s partners aim to deliver benefits by applying rigorous design skills and practical knowhow gained by experience in mines, ports and industrial plants. In addition to designing new chutes, the Chute Technology group will specialise in the retrofit of existing plants.

Chute Technology will focus on value-adding services including: Increased tonnes per hour, more product delivered in a shorter time at lower OPEX; Reduced wear rates, reduced consumables, labour and downtime; Control of spillage, dust and clean-up, for a safer and safety compliant workplace; Debottlenecking of conveyor systems by applying new technology to upgrades.

Mr Pomfret adds that the three partners involved in Chute Technology have already worked together on transfer chutes and have identified an opportunity to combine resources to form a company that focuses on transfer chutes. 

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