Hydraulics play a vital role in the mining industry, especially underground mining. No other system can match the workload, efficiency and safety of hydraulic machinery.
Hydraulics allows mining equipment to move heavier loads and produce greater force than mechanical or electrical systems. Their robust design keeps them operating longer between services and with fewer moving parts, there is less chance of breaking down.
Another fundamental part of underground mining is safety. Working in a confined area where a gas leak may not be detected or is unable to escape can present a recipe for disaster. A spark from an electrical system can ignite gases and cause an explosion. Hydraulic mining systems are essentially explosion proof. We’ll discuss more on this later.
Let’s compare hydraulic mining equipment to the alternatives and find out how it can benefit your underground mining operation.
Hydraulic Vs Electrical/Mechanical Mining Equipment
Hydraulic cylinders used in mining equipment are well regarded for their durability and low cost per unit of force. They also require less maintenance and are considered safer – a huge benefit to both owners and operators.
Safety when operating mining equipment
As mentioned earlier, replacing electrical components with hydraulic components has created a whole new level of safety for underground miners. Coal mining, with its combustible atmosphere, experienced many underground explosions from electrical sparks – the use of hydraulics has all but eliminated these underground dangers.
Handling mining equipment
Compared to electrical and mechanical mining equipment, hydraulic equipment is much easier to control. Well maintained hydraulics allows equipment to move large volumes of dirt and rock easily and deliver the necessary power to drilling machinery.
Mining equipment maintenance
With fewer moving parts than electrical or mechanical systems, there is less chance of problems arising. Hydraulic systems also require less maintenance, such as replacing filters or fluids. Some electrical and mechanical systems will need to be lubricated every 80 hours (much more frequently than hydraulic machinery) and can be affected more by dust and dirt.
Hydraulics and the environment
Whether it’s the surrounding environment or the long-term impact on the environment, hydraulic systems are a superior product. Hydraulic components operate much quieter and generate less heat – both of which are preferred when you’re working in a confined area. In terms of impacting the environment, hydraulic systems use significantly less energy and have the option of using environmentally friendly fluid.
Using Hydraulic Equipment for Underground Mining
Almost every stage of underground mining will require the use of hydraulic equipment. From moving earth to drilling rock, hydraulic systems deliver the power you need to complete the job fast and efficiently.
While we’ve already mentioned the safety benefits of hydraulic equipment, it really can’t be underestimated. The dangers of working underground are high and mining companies must choose products that lower the risk of potential injury or damage. From relatively minor issues like fluid contamination to major problems like workplace safety, hydraulic equipment is clearly superior to its electrical and mechanical counterparts.
To ensure that your hydraulic components are always performing at their best, make sure that you:
- Carry our scheduled maintenance
- Use the correct fluids
- Avoid contaminating hydraulic fluids
- Watch and listen for any irregularities with the hydraulics
- Choose a qualified repairer for all maintenance
If you want more advice on using hydraulic machinery for your underground mining operation, contact the experts at Hydramech. Whether it’s repairs, parts or exchanging a hydraulic component, Hydramech can help.
Many mining companies choose Hydramech for our exclusive Drop and Swap service. If you have an old or broken hydraulic part that needs repairs, you can drop it off and take a refurbished part immediately. This quick turnaround ensures that any downtime is kept to a minimum.