WATER CANONS MINING
The MacLean Advantage:
The MacLean WC3 mining water cannons harnesses water power to increase ore recovery.
With ongoing commodity price pressures and a global push to increase existing mines’ productivity, leaving high-grade behind in ore bodies isn’t an option for operators.
That was the situation facing the underground portion of Newcrest’s Telfer mine in Western Australia, where long hole stoping was implemented to recover high-grade ore in reefs running on a 45 degree dip. Metal scrapers (slushers) were the tool of choice to clear these narrow stopes, but lengthy set-up and the problem of cable breakage due to scraper jamming meant that it was taking almost two days to clear the 1.2-metre by 12-metre wide stope.
Cue the MacLean Engineering branch in Wangara, Australia, the OEM that Newcrest turned to for a hard rock solution to their ore flow challenge at Telfer. A technology development partnership between Newcrest and MacLean resulted in a modified version of the MacLean WC3 Water Cannon, one with a boom and nozzle geometry that could blast water downwards (at up to 2,800 litres per minute) while also providing wide coverage to facilitate the flow of ore down the stope.
Since its introduction, the use of high pressure water as an ore flow tool at Telfer has significantly increased productivity and operator safety. A single stope cleaning that used to take a full day to set up and a full day to complete has been reduced to a four-hour set-up, with crews then being able to clean two stopes during the remainder of the shift. Just as importantly, operators are now able perform this work at a safe distance.
With the unit expected to reach payback on the initial capital investment within just nine months, the world’s first-ever sub level water cannon is delivering returns on multiple fronts simultaneously – increased ore production, increased operator safety, and increased profitability. The Aqua Blasta, as it is known in the Australian market, is proving that local partnerships and local solutions are the key to building for life Down Underground