Practical approach to analyse mine pneumatic drilling performance
South African deep-level mines were challenged over the last couple of years as production trends declined and the commodity price for PGM’s and gold decreased from 2016. The labour costs and operational costs are also increasing, thus increasing mines’ fixed costs. The profitability of South African mines is threatened as income decreases and fixed costs rise. South African mines are also limited by the current infrastructure compared to the rest of the world. One such outdated technology used in most of South African mines is pneumatic rock drills. Optimising pneumatic rock drilling will help ensure South African mines remain profitable and competitive. Studies implemented to improve production, studies that investigated pneumatic rock drills, and studies identifying inefficiencies in a compressed air network were critically analysed. The need was evident to develop a practical holistic approach to analyse mine production outputs against pneumatic drilling performance. The study’s objectives were addressed by developing a methodology to holistically overview the mine’s compressed air service delivery and production performance using key performance indicators. The most inefficient production levels, most likely affected by inadequate compressed air service delivery, were identified and further analysed to determine the effect of inadequate compressed air service delivery on production. The effect of poor compressed air pressure could be analysed by comparing the calculated expected compressed air pressure with the production achieved for every active panel per day. The common drilling performance of every production panel was identified and compared to production realised when compressed air service delivery pressure was low. The methodology was implemented at Mine A over five months, analysing all the production and compressed air service delivery data to identify production lost due to insufficient compressed air service delivery. The study’s objectives were met and the study identified R3.5 million lost production due to inadequate compressed air supply at the production panels during a five-month period. Monitoring and addressing compressed air wastage in the compressed air network can prevent future production loss.
- Engineering