REDUCING on-site fuel spend can have enormous impacts for overall mining efficiency.

Fuelfix specialises in providing premium solutions for fuel storage and management through innovative products and services.

National manager marketing and corporate strategy, Henry Westbrook, described the recent work on an in-pit refueller project for one of Australia’s largest mining companies as one example of Fuelfix’s problem solving capabilities and delivery of an innovative solutions.

“We worked out that if we positioned the fuel tank in the actual mining pit rather than have all the trucks having to travel to a fuel farm, it would save both time and money for the customer” Mr Westbrook said.

“But to make it work we actually had to build a big enough fuel tank and improve flow rates from the pumping equipment so we negotiated with the Department of Mines to allow us to build the T200, a 200,000 litre self-bunded fuel tank which was twice the size of the largest one available up to then.

“Once we had approval, we designed and built in-house, a pumping skid that could deliver the fuel at 1000 litres a minute to ensure the minimum down time for trucks when refuelling in the pit.”

“To be compatible with the customer’s data collection and clean fuel goals we also included fuel filtration and fuel management into the package so that no compromise was made in these areas even though the facility was in the pit.” Mr Westbrook said.

The project was a critical part of a series of initiatives developed through collaboration between the customer and Fuelfix to reduce fuel spend, improve burn efficiency and enable maximum uptime of all trucks for their main task, hauling ore.

“There are real cost saving and mining optimisation benefits from having your fuel in the right place, stored in the right way and kept clean so you burn less of it.” Mr Westbrook said.

Pump development

It took three years from concept to development for the project to now being rolled out across multiple sites, which included the development of a faster, more efficient pump for the T200 tank.

“Traditional high flow refuelling generally operated anywhere in the bandwidth or 250-500 litres per minute and that was perfectly acceptable for a long time, but as sites started cracking down and cutting costs a few years ago, the time it took to refuel trucks was basically taking away from time they could be hauling iron ore, “Mr Westbrook said.

“So, the quicker you can refuel them, the quicker they can get back out there and keep working.

“We had to significantly increase the flow rates, which requires quite a bit of engineering because you have to adjust the sizes of the pipes coming out of the tanks, the amount of power the pumps drive and of course all of that has to be safe and reliable so they don’t break down and cause a spill.

“To get up to 1000l a minute was a significant achievement and we’re quite proud of that.”

The in-pit refueller set the customer ahead of the pack in terms of fuel efficiency.

“Once one site demonstrated that it could achieve significant advantages by refuelling in the pit, everyone else was pretty quick to follow,” Mr Westbrook said.

Beyond cost savings, Mr Westbrook said that there is a push across the industry to improve how efficiently fuel is used.

“I think a big part of that, when you are burning so much diesel, is to burn it as responsibly as possible and absolutely maximise your fuel purchasing and burn,” he said.

“Having the fuel in the right spot in the pit you can go a long way towards doing that.

“That’s why we feel the in-pit refueller is beneficial to any mining company that’s looking to reduce their fuel spend.”


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