The Advantages of Overland Conveyors vs. Mining Trucks

The debate of whether to use a fleet of trucks or conveyors to move millions of tons of aggregate from the job site to the processing plant is not a new one. Proponents of the truck method claim that it’s much cheaper to purchase a few vehicles versus setting up a custom conveyor system.

While this may be true initially, many other factors make an overland conveyor system far less expensive and way more cost-effective. Thanks to advances in modern technology, conveyor systems are proving themselves to be more efficient than an entire fleet of trucks to move millions of tons of dirt, rock, and gravel over long distances.

5 Benefits of Overland Conveyors

Continue reading to learn about five advantages that an overland conveyor system has over a fleet of trucks.

Conveyor Belt Moves Ore From The Quarry For Processing. Blurred Foreground

1. Conveyors are safer

The average mining truck can weigh several hundred tons, and their tires are over twice the height of the average adult. Each one requires approximately seven maintenance and operation workers to keep it running. With this many people working in, on, and around the vehicle, the chances of an accident are significantly increased.

Difficult terrain, extreme weather, and spilled loads are just a few of the many safety issues that running a fleet of trucks presents. Conveyors, on the other hand, can be built over very rough terrain, thereby making the overall trip shorter and safer. They can even be built over railroads, rivers, and on top of bridges.

2. Conveyors are more efficient

One of the biggest disadvantages of running a fleet of trucks is the lack of overall efficiency. In addition to unscheduled mechanical breakdowns, vehicles often have to wait in line to load up, then wait again to deposit their materials. On the return trip back to the mine, they’re running empty, consuming fuel, and experiencing wear and tear.

Conveyors, on the other hand, run continuously with minimal overall downtime outside of regularly scheduled maintenance requirements. This directly translates into the ability to move more material over “X” number of miles in any given 24-hour period than with an entire fleet of trucks.

There’s also the unpredictable human element. Labor strikes, shortages, sick days, and accidents can cause truck operations to slow to a crawl. Conveyors require but a fraction of the manpower that a fleet does and offer a much higher ROI per mile traveled.

3. The ability to go anywhere

Mining and other natural resource extraction operations are often located in areas with terrain that’s challenging for a vehicle to navigate safely or efficiently. Unlike trucks, which need a well-maintained road to traverse, overland conveyors can be designed and installed to go from Point A to Point B as the proverbial crow flies.

This offers several distinct advantages as there is no need to maintain roads or clear off snow and ice in the wintertime. This also means that the material will get to the processing plant or loadout facility much faster. Specially designed systems, such as West River Conveyors’ modular surface conveyor offers the ability to move the mobile conveyor from location to location.

4. Conveyors require less manpower

A modern conveyor belt system generally requires around half of the manpower that’s needed to run a fleet of trucks. Recent advancements in technology now allow for the remote monitoring of critical conveyor parts. This further lessens the number of workers required to ensure efficient and safe operations.

While self-driving cars may work well on city roads, the technology is still in its infancy when it comes to commercial mining applications. There’s also no guarantee that a fleet of older-generation trucks can be retrofitted when and if the technology matures.

5. Conveyors are more environmentally friendly

Mining trucks are massive in size, and they consume an equally large amount of diesel fuel, which isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. Depending on where the mine is located, there stands a genuine risk of running afoul of current or future unforeseen environmental regulations.

Truck accidents can and do occur, and that could result in a spilled load in an environmentally sensitive area. A conveyor system comes with several internal safety features that will keep the material securely in place on the belt in the event of a manual emergency shut down. 

They’re also good for moving almost any type of material, including dirt, sand, aggregate, wood chips, and even fly/coal ash with little chance of spillage or accidents. 

The Conveyor System Advantage

Thanks to advancements in modern technology, overland conveyor systems are the superior choice for moving a large amount of aggregate over long distances in an efficient, safe, and economical manner. They’re also portable, which allows for the system to scale alongside your mining operations.

At West River Conveyors, we have an over 35-year history of providing our customers with high-quality conveyors and equipment. If you’d like to learn more about how our products can benefit your mining operation, click here the button below. 

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