Haul road maintenance costs are a huge expense, and most mining companies are forever looking at ways to reduce this onerous burden.
As such, mining companies can become susceptible to sales pitches from different road stabilisation service providers who claim to be able to offer them “massive” savings on haul road maintenance.
On paper, many of these savings look quite feasible, however most of these schemes fail to take one important factor into account… “the big picture”.
What is often overlooked is the need to factor in the TOTAL costs of maintaining serviceable roads and to not just look at everything in isolation.
“Look at how much we can save you on dust abatement chemicals!” This is the sales pitch often used. ignoring associated costs such as water trucks operational costs. The implications and effect of road defects such as pot holes, corrugation, washboards etc. on tyre wear and maintenance are also often ignored.
In many cases, there appears to be a distinct disconnect between department costings, such as between maintenance and production. Sometimes costs are factored in at a corporate level, and at site level. Occasionally, important considerations such as depreciation are not factored in which can be completely misleading in the decision making process.
Factors that influence road maintenance costs
The operation of waterbowzers is a major factor affecting maintenance costs. Dust-A-Side can reduce the size of waterbowzers used – e.g. from 85,000 litres to 35,000 litres – and the number of waterbowzers used in the mines’ fleet. Water savings in excess of 90% are also a benefit for the environment particularly in arid and semi-arid areas.
Fuel is another expense not to overlook. A 1% reduction in fuel can result in massive savings. Dust-A-Side has managed to achieve such savings for clients and even slightly more. An average of 5% in fuel bill reduction has been achieved.
Road roughness can dramatically increase fuel and maintenance costs, as well as lead to a host of safety issues. Roads treated and sealed with DASProduct can improve rolling resistance by between 20-30% compared with unsealed surfaces. An improved rolling resistance means a reduction in fuel consumption thus resulting in improved reduction in cost per ton produced on the mine.
Wet Weather Days
Wet weather impacts heavily on haul roads availability and functionality, making them non-trafficable for hours and even days at a times, depending on the type of wearing course used. Our haul road management program gives rise to an ‘all weather’ haul road that has been proven to drastically reduce wet weather stand-downs by up to 12 hours.
Another direct operational saving is the reduction in grader utilisation. Once again, Dust-A-Side’s primary haul road maintenance program has achieved on average a 75% reduction in grader fleet numbers required to maintain untreated haul roads or roads treated with other products.
With quality haul road truck tyres costing an arm and a leg, it pays to milk as much mileage as one can from them. Dust-A-Side has proven to provide quality dust-free and sealed roads for years. In one of the mines where this program has been implemented, the mine recorded an increase in tyre life from 5,500 hours to 6,900 hours which is a 25% increase in tyre life.
Dust-A-Side can reduce overall maintenance costs and increase component life as well as improve production cycle times / reduce cost of tons of ore hauled. The bottom line is financial payback.
Minimising TOTAL Road-User Costs
There are basically four road maintenance programs that can be implemented:
- Ad-hoc management
- Scheduled maintenance
- Maintenance management system (MMS)
- Real-time systems
The first two type of programs are not recommended for optimal results. Only an MMS or real-time system approach has the potential to minimise total road-user costs.
To achieve the minimum total cost solution, strategies to reduce both vehicle operating costs AND road maintenance costs need to be incorporated together.
Cost savings associated with the adoption of a maintenance management approach are dependent on the hauling operation, vehicle types, road geometry and tonnages hauled.
The adoption of an MMS program for mine haul roads has the potential to generate significant cost benefits when used dynamically, in conjunction with production planning, to optimise mine haul road maintenance activities for combinations of wearing course material, traffic volumes and vehicle types.
For more information and advice about haul road maintenance cost issues, please feel free to discuss it with one of our experienced engineers. Call +27 12 648 8900 or simply click here to contact us.