“Advances in overland conveying technology have improved efficiency, reduced capital and operating costs, and made the conveying process more environmentally friendly and sustainable. One important metric that supports this is the cost for transporting material, which is $2 – $3 less per ton using overland conveying compared to trucking, factoring in capital expense and operating costs.”- The Beumer Group – Pit and Quarry
Ok, the above quote is admittedly from sponsored content at Pit and Quarry but when you’re talking 2 to 3 bucks less cost per ton, you have our attention.
The Trucks vs Overland Belt Conveyors Debate: Advantage OLBC
As the world goes greener by the decade the debate over trucks versus overland conveyor belts for moving bulk materials is steadily moving in favor of the latter option for cost-per-ton minded plant engineers in the mining and aggregates sectors.
With the unrelenting bias against fossil fuel infrastructure, and the enormous mining haulers that burn it, overland belt conveyors (OLBC) now have the advantage. At least until those hydrogen-powered semis we talked about in a recent blog join the mining and quarry fleets.
In a way the debate is similar to the Keystone Pipeline shutdown debate that erupted when the Biden administration put a major kink in that essential national energy hose, conveniently earning railroad magnate and billionaire Warren Buffett 3 times the cost per barrel for shipping by rail.
But in this case, the fact that enormous mining haulers run on dirty diesel and conveyors run on clean electric can be a plus for investors anxious about the ubiquitous environmental opposition that new mining ventures and old alike are likely to face in this decade’s green globalist business environment.
In mining, even monster mining truck loyalists are making the move away from fossil fuels for their fleets, whether it be via hydrogen, electric, or even liquid natural gas as we wrote about last February after the Keystone shutdown that has since tripled prices at the pump.
Trucks will always play an operational role, but fleet sizes can be expected to shrink proportionally, especially when bulk materials need to be transported 20 miles or more across rugged terrain.
As the precious metals rush triggered by the lithium/EV economy generates more Rare Earth Element mines in remote locations, OLBC infrastructure seems to be the solution for the future. As the purveyor of overland conveyors, the Beumer Group says at their website:
“Rough, mountainous and fragmented terrain with extreme differences in height is nothing our belt conveyors can’t handle. The routing of the belt conveyors is adapted to the geographic and topographic conditions by combining horizontal and vertical curves.”
With that in mind, the industry watchers at Resource Erectors decided to take a closer look at the state-of-the-art conveyor system guys to see exactly what they are offering that could replace our beloved big-wheeled behemoths in mines and quarries everywhere, thus breaking the hearts of the old Tonka generation like us.
The Benefits of OLBC
First, we checked out West River Conveyors, a conveyor machinery company out of Oakwood, Virginia with close to nationwide service coverage. With nearly 40 years in the mining industry, West River had no trouble making a solid case for the benefits and Returns on Investment that overland conveyors provide as opposed to operating fleets of mining trucks. Those benefits include:
- Safety- Always break out the big gun first, and improving safety is certainly a big one in the mining and aggregate industries, with OSHA and MSHA always over the shoulder. West River is quick to point out; “The average mining truck can weigh several hundred tons, and their tires are over twice the height of the average adult.”
- Maintenance Manpower Per Truck- Each truck requires approximately seven maintenance and operation workers to keep it running.
- Load lag and Intervals where trucks are running idle waiting in line and worse running empty on return trips.
- Challenging Terrain– Point A to point B routing as the crow flies is much more cost-efficient and gets extracted bulk materials to processing faster. The truck option requires building, maintaining, and operating a road that may need to meander around obstacles.
- Weather- The efficiently designed overland conveyor system avoids the need to battle the weather to keep roads clear of snowfall, debris, and mechanical breakdowns.
- Only ½ the Manpower Required – Remote monitoring technology means that fewer workers are required onsite to ensure efficient and safe conveyor operations.
- No Spills No Accidents – A spilled load in an environmentally sensitive area could be a major headache. Overland conveyor systems incorporate redundant internal safety features that keep the material securely in place on the belt in the event of a manual emergency shut down.
- Environmental Friendliness- Another big issue, especially where the public is concerned and the “Not In My Back Yard” NIMBY folks pop up. Clean conveyors easily win this debate once fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions of the diesel-guzzling mining titans are factored in.
But even when OLBC is the choice for environmentally conscious operations, there is always the risk that a rare buckwheat flower or sacred snake may be disturbed by that energy-efficient, lean, clean, Point A to B overland belt conveyor system.
About Resource Erectors
We bring decades of heavy industry human resource recruiting and placement experience to the table to help our industry-leading clients in the aggregate and mining industries attract the top professional talent to the table. We also maintain ongoing connections with companies in civil engineering and construction, concrete, construction materials, gypsum, tunneling, and more, all seeking the top professional talent.
When you’re making a strategic career move as a highly qualified professional, move up to Resource Erectors. 85% of the candidates we ‘ve placed are still contributing to the success of their companies more than 5 years later. If you’re building your company’s next dream team, we can help you avoid the high costs of vacancies in essential positions in your organization, so don’t hesitate to contact Resource Erectors today so we can all get to work.