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Filtration Expert Assists Iron-Ore Mines With Oil Cleanliness
Company News Wednesday, August 01, 2012: Filter Focus
South African filtration company Filter Focus is in the process of integrating its services with Anglo American subsidiary Kumba Iron Ore’s newly opened Kolomela iron-ore mine, near Postmaburg in the Northern Cape.
The mine officially opened on June 22 and Filter Focus aims to extend the life of hydraulic oil used in the processing equipment at Kolomela, which will decrease the mine’s environmental footprint.
The company has been involved with Kumba’s Sishen mine since 2005, assisting with oil cleanliness and addressing frequent component failure of hydraulic crushers.
Hydraulic oil is generally discarded owing to contamination; however, Filter Focus has developed systems that eliminate this wasteful practice.
The company initially concentrated on the primary, secondary and quaternary crushers, which consisted of 21 independent filter systems.
“The consumption of oil at Sishen’s primary and secondary crushers was worrying. The total oil consumption was about 160 000l/y,” says Filter Focus COO Craig FitzGerald.
“Owing to high consumption, filtration of oil was investigated. The mine came to the conclusion that if they employed submicron filtration of the oil and filtered the oil while in use, it could improve the life cycle of the equipment. The old centrifugal filters used by Sishen were inefficient, labour intensive and required daily cleaning.”
He highlights that the Filter Focus’s filtering process provides a higher level of oil cleanliness, as the oil in operation, after being filtered, is cleaner than the new oil delivered directly from the refinery.
“Oil additive packages are kept intact, extending the life of the oil by up to ten years.
“This decreases the rate at which oil is disposed on and, therefore, an operation’s impact on the environment,” states FitzGerald.
Further, the life expectancy of lubricating pumps has been extended tenfold, compared with historical averages, and oil consumption has been reduced from 4000l/m to about 500l/m as a result of the filtration process.
Crusher socket life has also been extended from an average four months to 3.5 years and maintenance work has been reduced, enabling the hazard identification and risk assessment level at Sishen to drop from 42 to 0.5.
“As a result, Filter Focus has been awarded a supply and maintenance contract to provide plantwide filtration services at Sishen.
“Our products and services are now being extended across operations on the various plants at Kumba” FitzGerald adds.
Filter Focus also works with ferrochrome producer Hernic Ferrochrome, based on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, in the North West province, to assist with oil cleanliness and frequent component failures at its processing plant.
FitzGerald explains that ultrafine offline filtration systems have been installed on all gearboxes, along with bearing lubrication systems.
“Since installation, the oil has not been replaced, as cleanliness is being maintained and wear rates have decreased by 92%.
“Numerous gearboxes and pumps have been saved as a result of our work.
“An oil analysis programme has also been implemented and comprises monthly oil condition monitoring from which reports are generated.
“Further, all conveyors have been equipped with Easylube single point automated lubrication systems, which have extended bearing life. Filter Focus has also taken over the lubrication of the girth gear and, through improved lubrication qualities, we have reduced consumptions from 400 kg/m to 40 kg/m,” states FitzGerald.
As a result, temperatures across the face of the girth gear have decreased by about 20°C, extending component life.
FitzGerald adds that pinion bearings are being treated with lubrication technology provider Lubrication Engineers’ Almagard 3752, resulting in a temperature reduction of 12%, extending bearing life and lowering friction.
Filter Focus is also providing filtration and lubrication services for Namibian zinc and lead mining business Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation, platinum producer Zimplats’ Selous Metallurgical Complex and Ngezi concentrator, in Zimbabwe and Anglo Platinum’s Mokopane platinum mine, Limpopo, South Africa.