With the cumulative technical experience from 5 000 custom-designed chutes installed around the world, Weba Chute Systems delivers long-term value and quick payback times.
According to Mark Baller, managing director of Weba Chute Systems, most of his company’s chutes can deliver a full return on investment within 18 months. However, the real value for the customer is in reduced operating costs and no disruption to operations.
“In our experience, many mines pay a high price when they opt for the lowest capital outlay and settle for a standard, off-the-shelf chute,” says Baller. “Any initial cost they save quickly disappears when there is a blockage or spillage that demands a stoppage.”
There are also often higher maintenance costs to consider, and the potential health hazards related to excessive noise and dust at the transfer point. By contrast, a customised product addresses the specific requirement of each customer’s application and will ensure smooth functioning for longer.
“The material that is transferred through a plant is never constant, as the ore body is often not homogenous,” he says. “This means that throughout the lifespan of a mine, the properties change as different sectors of an open pit or underground operations are used.”
The complexity of each design is also that the material being handled will not always be consistent with the test results used for the base design of the transfer point. According to Baller, this is where years of practical experience play a key role.
“Our specialists can engineer a design that will accommodate a range of material properties and operating conditions,” says Baller. “Most of the expertise invested in chute design is based on practical, applied and site-specific knowledge.”
He notes that many mines are now acknowledging that the initial purchase price is not the best guideline of value, and that the focus should really be on the total cost of ownership. He also says that Weba Chute Systems is frequently requested to replace chute systems that have not met customers’ expectations, either in terms of their performance or their wear life and longevity.