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Saving energy with sustainable solutions

About 4-6 percent of the world’s total energy is consumed by the mining sector. Sandvik is committed to bring a more sustainable and eco-efficient way to reduce the energy consumption in mining.

Rock processing in the mining and infrastructure industry are cornerstones in the development of our society. It’s essential for the construction of roads and buildings, and to get access to metal and minerals, including the rare earth metals necessary for the green transition.

Hence the industry accounts for a large portion of the global economy. The amount of energy consumed by comminution the size reduction of rock material is considerable though, and there is a huge potential to save energy by rethinking the process, Jonas Olsson, Director Strategy and Business Development at Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions says.

40 percent of the energy used in the global mining industry is consumed in conventional grinding operations with an efficiency below 5 percent.

“We have made it our mission to help our customers find the best sustainable solution in terms of financial savings, energy efficiency and climate gains throughout the lifecycle of the plant,” says Olsson.

Improvements can be made at all steps in the process of turning solid rock into valuable product size fraction or into the liberation size where metals like iron, gold or copper can be extracted. Significant savings can, for example, be achieved by extending the crushing process that generally ends when the rock has reached a top size of 12 to 14 millimeters.

“Move that limit down to 8 or 6 millimeters and there are significant amounts of energy, as well as water, to be saved. Our stationary crushers have an energy efficiency of 50 percent. For every ton you convert to crushing instead of grinding, you’ve saved 90 percent energy,” Olsson exemplifies.

Sandvik specializes in the process

The big challenge is to make the industry aware of how much there actually is to gain from making the shift towards ­energy-efficient rock processing ­solutions, where Sandvik specializes in the crushing and screening part of the process. High energy prices have led to increased interest in inviting Sandvik to review operations.

“There is generally always an improvement potential of 10 to 15 percent that can be reached through configuration and customization of the equipment already in use. We look at the entire process to identify the true bottlenecks, as well as areas with the best improvement potential,” says Anders Lindström, Performance Optimization Manager at Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions.

As it has become increasingly important for mining and aggregate producing companies to show permit authorities and stakeholders that they are using the best and most sustainable methods, solutions from Sandvik is increasing in value.

“It’s no longer enough to only be price competitive and we do have a unique know-how based on decades of processing experience,” says Lindström.

Reliable and powerful information

To ensure sustainable efficiency gains, Sandvik focuses on knowledge transfer of best practices of operating rock processing plants and equipment. The customized performance optimization starts with characterizing the customer material in a test lab.

That provides reliable and powerful information, which in combination with software tools, such as PlantDesigner, are used to maximize the value of using Sandvik rock processing equipment.

“Thanks to our decentralization strategy we can provide certified expertise knowledge regardless of where our customers are located,” says Anders Lindström.

Crushing vs. grinding

5%

is the energy efficiency at conventional grinding of rock material.

50%

is the energy efficiency of Sandvik stationary crushers.

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