Optimal use of mobile cooling units in a deep-level gold mine
Van Staden, H.J.
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South Africa has an international advantage in terms of gold deposit endowment, however there are several challenges faced by the gold mining sector that hinder the realisation of the country's full production potential. Despite a decline in economic importance, the South African gold mining sector remains a significant contributor to the country's economy. The sustainability of the gold mining sector can be improved through implementing measures to improve operational efficiency. One such area offering large potential for optimisation is the use of mobile cooling units. These units are used as tertiary cooling and become inefficient as a result of harsh underground working conditions, corrosion and a general lack of maintenance. As a result, these inefficient mobile cooling units can negatively impact underground temperatures as well as increase operating costs. A need is evident to optimise existing mobile cooling units with the aim of improving service delivery, reducing operating costs and improving underground temperatures. A method was therefore developed for accurately measuring the specific operational parameters of these mobile cooling units, characterise their performance, and thereafter select relevant optimisation strategies. This method was then implemented on Mine X, which led to twenty-one mobile cooling units being removed. The results of which was a reduction in pumped water volume of more than 47 ML and 150 ML for July 2017 and August 2017 respectively. This gave rise to a reduction in operating costs through electricity cost savings of more than R580 000 and R1,8 million for July 2017 and August 2017 respectively. Furthermore, improvements of between 1? and 3? in wet-bulb temperatures were realised.
- Engineering