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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Europe: June 1st 2007


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:: Underground Jaw Crusher Vital to Tara Mines' Operation

New Boliden operates Europe's largest zinc mine, Tara Mines, in Navan, Ireland. During the 30 years of its operation, the mine has struggled to remain profitable. Managing Director of the Tara Mines Bert-Ove Johansson has learned the importance of driving down costs even during the current boom in demand for zinc and lead. Jaw crusher Nordberg C200 from Metso Minerals is a vital element in cost effective production.

With relatively high costs, Tara Mines has struggled to remain profitable when the price of zinc has been low - which it has been for prolonged periods - and was even briefly shut down five years ago. But with a new owner, in the shape of Swedish metals firm New Boliden, and metals prices at record highs, things are again looking up for Tara. Production in 2006 was 2.64 million tonnes, yielding some 200,000 tonnes of zinc - the sixth highest zinc production in the world.

Having struggled to break even for such a long time, these are exciting times for the workers at Tara. Its charismatic Managing Director is Bert-Ove Johansson, a lifelong miner who has shared the ups and downs of the industry. “All I’ve ever known is rubbish prices," he laughs. “You have to invest in this economic climate because metal rates will fall eventually. We have to modernize; introduce new technology, new processes, better equipment - and fewer of them."

Already a relatively high cost operation, the pressure to improve efficiency is set to increase as the mine deepens. At the heart of the mine is the mine’s No.5 crusher, a Nordberg C200 jaw crusher from Metso Minerals. Set with a six inch opening, the jaw crusher is 900 m from the surface and, along with three others (some dating back to the mid 1970s), conducts all primary crushing underground. The jaw crusher reduces the ore to 0-250/300mm before it is hoisted to the surface 900 m above for secondary crushing down to minus 16 mm. “The Number 5 can crush the rock faster than we can feed it at the moment," says mine captain Patsy Coogan. “The crusher can take 1,000 tonnes an hour but the conveyor can only handle 700 tonnes."

The Nordberg C200 jaw crusher is proving not only to be low maintenance; it is also largely operator free. “30 years ago we had one crusher and 24 people looking after it," remembers Mr. Coogan. “Today we have five crushers looked after by only five operators sitting in a remote air conditioned crusher booth. Electronic monitoring systems and build quality have made a tremendous difference."

Although there are five crushers, only four are operational at any one time - and the C200 jaw crusher is the vital element. “If the No.5 crusher does go down we lose half our production," states managing director Mr. Johansson. “If this happens we would have to transport the ore 3 km to the next crushing station - but we don’t as we haven’t the capability. This crusher is absolutely vital to our business."

As the mine deepens and lengthens another jaw crusher from Metso Minerals will eventually be needed - but for now the current model is enough. The C Series jaw crushers have gained a reputation for excelling in situations where a cost effective primary reduction of hard, abrasive materials is needed. Part of the C Series range, the C200 jaw crusher is built using a modular non-welded design. This helps make it both strong and reliable, especially when combined with spherical roller bearings, leading to a low cost per ton - the ambition of every mining operation.




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