Coeur Mining, Inc. is the largest primary silver producer in the nation and a significant gold producer, with three wholly-owned operations in North America and two in Latin America, write Robert Stepper, General Manager, Coeur Rochester and Richard Shields,Western Regional Manager, Martin Engineering. Incorporated in 1928, the firm currently employs around 2,000 people. The company’s Rochester mine and associated heap leach facilities are located in Pershing County, Nevada. Coeur Rochester produced 4.2 million ounces of silver in 2014, along with 44,888 ounces of gold, and has proven and probable reserves of more than 80 million ounces of silver and over 500,000 ounces of gold.
The company operates with a deep commitment to its code of corporate responsibility to employees, contractors, communities and the environment. “Our primary commitment to employees and contractors is to protect their health and safety,” said Coeur President and CEO Mitchell Krebs. “Safety programming and management systems are continuously reviewed and improved to provide the training and tools necessary to prevent accidents, injuries and occupational illnesses.” That code is evident in the facility’s safety record: more than six years and counting without a single lost-time injury (LTI).
As part of that commitment, Coeur Rochester recently undertook a comprehensive review of its bulk material handling processes. The massive Rochester site is spread over 10,800 acres (43.7km2), and includes a network of 20 conveyors, originally designed and installed in 1986. Given the system’s age and the amount of usage over nearly 30 years in service, company officials began considering ways to update the conveyors with leading-edge technology to raise efficiency, reduce dust and spillage, and contribute further to safety.
Coeur managers initiated discussions with HARDROK Equipment, a trusted supplier with a history of more than 40 years of combined experience in maintaining and optimizing crushing, conveying and screening operations. The teams met and did a thorough review of the entire conveyor network, followed by a series of five training sessions to review the issues and the technologies available to resolve them.
HARDROK is a licensed dealer of Martin Engineering conveyor products, and much of the discussion revolved around the company’s EVO® Conveyor
Architecture, a literal reinventing of the conventional design approach for conveyors.
“We’ve always operated under the belief that high-quality products and services cost less per tonne over the life of the product,” observed HARDROK President Ted Zebroski. “With proper design, premium components should improve productivity and safety, and that greater efficiency delivers a lower total cost of ownership.”
During plant construction most conveyor systems have been specified by determining the capacity and meeting the minimum codes and safety requirements, with a focus on the lowest construction cost,” Zebroski said. “Instead, the Martin EVO approach examines every detail for opportunities to make conveyors safer, more productive and better able to contain fugitive material. And the concept can be applied to new systems or retrofitted to existing designs.”
Conveyor B was chosen as the starting point with the most potential for improvement, a 48in (122cm)-wide belt running at 386 FPM, with a 40ft (12.2m) chute wall. With a troughing angle of 35°, Conveyor B handles nearly 1,500tph of rock that has been sized to 4in (10.2cm) minus, carrying it from the secondary cone crusher to the surge pile stacker. It’s loaded directly by a vibrating grizzly feeder under the chute and the secondary crusher.
“There’s a long fall going to the secondary crusher, and that creates a huge disturbance in the material flow,” explained Crusher Operations/Fixed Plant Maintenance Superintendent Wayne Maita. “We were seeing a lot of dust and spillage in that area. It not only affected the air quality and presented a potential safety risk from accumulated material on floors and structures, but it also meant putting operational personnel in close proximity to the moving conveyor for cleanup.”