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BMA Caval Ridge crowd-sources innovative solution to maintenance safety challenge

Maintainers in the coal handling and processing plant at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Caval Ridge Mine will soon be better protected when repairing rotating machinery thanks to a new work stand developed through the BHP Supplier Innovation Program. 

Banks of filter presses are used at Caval Ridge Mine, near Moranbah, and several other BMA metallurgical coal mines in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, to extract moisture from waste material washed off coal as it is processed. The extracted water is recycled and the dried rejects are used as fill around the open cut mines.

Sydney-based firm Jord International has designed a belt cartridge installer with a self-contained drive unit capable of replacing the cloth conveyor belts used on a filter press, while the machine is safely isolated from its power source.

The team at Jord came up with the new device in response to a challenge issued by BHP to the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector through the Supplier Innovation Program to make filter press belt replacement safer.

Previously a filter press had to be operated at slow speed so that maintainers could physically pull the old belt off its rollers and feed a new belt into the machine. Processes exist to manage the risks, but the new belt installer eliminates human exposure to rotating machinery all together.

James Palmer, Asset President BMA, said the filter press challenge was a great example of METS sector expertise being engaged to solve an issue that did not have an immediate, off-the-shelf solution.

“We shared an issue through the Supplier Innovation Program and Jord have responded with out of the box thinking to eliminate a hazard that could otherwise put our people at risk,’’ he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what other challenges we can address through the Program.’’

Jord’s General Manager of Resources, Kevin Barber, thanked BHP and Austmine for the opportunity to participate in a collaborative challenge to address a safety hazard in the industry.

“Jord has a long history spanning some 50 years delivering custom plant and systems for the global resource and energy process industries. The Supplier Innovation Program has opened up communication and deepened our knowledge of some of the challenges and areas for improvement in mine operations,” Kevin said“

At Jord, we live by the motto ‘ideas engineered’, which means we encourage our people to share new ideas and we heavily invest in research and development with a goal to improve current processes in the industry.”

James Agar, BHP Group Procurement Officer, said the open engagement being encouraged through the Supplier Innovation Program was a key example of BHP’s commitment to more actively supporting METS businesses.

“We are seeing great innovation in the METS sector which is driving the technology development required to future fit our operations at BHP,’’ James said.

The Supplier Innovation Program was launched in Australia in 2020 as part of a $450 million commitment made by BHP to increase support and engagement with METS sector businesses.

The Program models a similar initiative that has been running with great success for the past decade to address business challenges at BHP’s Escondida operations in Chile.

Under the terms of the Program, participating businesses are permitted to retain the intellectual property for their designs, enabling them to further commercialise their new products following successful pilot trials with BHP.

In FY21, BHP launched eight challenges across its Minerals Australia operations, and plans to establish another 20 challenges this financial year.

Visit the Austmine website for more information about the BHP Supplier Innovation Program.