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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


TONKIN, C.J.. A critical investigation into alternatives to compressed air in boxfront chute cylinders. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.4, pp.317-325. ISSN 2411-9717.

Compressed air is widely used on South African gold mines. However, due to recent and proposed future electricity tariff increases it is quickly becoming too expensive to produce and use. Boxfront chute systems at ore passes were focused on during this study, and a number of alternative power sources were examined. After comparing primarily costs, and secondarily safety and practicality, of a number of systems based on water and hydraulic oil, a system making use of either air or water was determined to be the most cost effective. A payback time of 8 years was calculated, which will be significantly less taking into account the avoidance of failures due to electricity and water shortages, which would not affect this system due to its ability to swap between either air or water. It was recommended that this system be installed at all boxfront chutes as soon as possible so that the company can begin to benefit from the cost savings.

Keywords : compressed air; electricity tariff increases; boxfront chute systems; costs; water power.

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