How to Choose a Mining Conveyor Belt
There are multiple moving parts and components that help power a conveyor system. Idlers,
winches, bearings, couplings, gearboxes, motors, fluid couplings, and scrapers work in unison to transport materials from Point A to Point B.
One of the more often overlooked parts of a conveyor setup is none other than the belt itself. This pivotal component helps support and transport the product safely to its intended destination.
Read on to learn more about the various types of conveyor belts and the deciding factors you should consider when selecting one for your conveyor system.
WHAT IS A MINING CONVEYOR BELT?
A mining conveyor belt is one of the most essential components of a conveyor system. It transports ore and other materials from the mining site to processing facilities or loading areas.
Conveyor belts are powered by a motor that runs off electricity or other power sources.
Depending on the application and several other considerations, the composition of the belt could include a plastic or rubber compound, fabric materials, and steel cables. It’s supported by rollers that allow it to safely and efficiently move ore and other materials at a predetermined speed.
CONVEYOR BELT COMPOSITION
Conventional conveyor belts are comprised of three layers:
- The top layer, or cover, which is what the product rests on during transportation.
- The middle layer, also known as the carcass, helps support the belt. The carcass tends to be made of either metal or woven fabric.
- Finally, there’s the bottom cover to complete the belt makeup.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONVEYOR BELTS?
It’s critical to choose the right type of conveyor belt to ensure safe and reliable operation. Using the wrong belt can lead to catastrophic consequences and unplanned downtime.
These are the different types of conveyor belts available:
- Multi-ply—Consists of various layers of fabric separated by rubber, which helps deaden impact. Tend to be longer-lasting and are used for underground applications.
- Straight-warp—Ideal for tunneling applications, they’re most often used in rock quarries and rock crushers. Impact and tear resistance are the two premiere attributes, which feature yarns and polyamide on both sides. A straight-warp belt can achieve higher troughability at narrower belt widths and higher PIW ratings.
- Steel-cord—Steel cables running the entire length of the belt anchor this type of conveyor belt, which is used for underground applications.
- Solid woven belts—These are more popular in Europe and Asia and not used often in the U.S.
- Heat-resistant—Designed to withstand high temperatures.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING A MINING CONVEYOR BELT
If you’re shopping for a mining conveyor belt, you should first decide your tensile strength requirement, cover thickness, and cover type depending on the material being transported and loaded. Also of particular importance is the operating environment in which the conveyor transports material.
Conveyors that move packaging or light materials in temperature-controlled warehouses won’t have the same demands as those transporting heavy products underground in mines and quarries.
This is why the application and environment should be the two top considerations when selecting a mining conveyor belt.
ABOVE OR UNDERGROUND?
The key difference between above-ground and underground mining belts is the materials used in the manufacturing process. A standard surface or above-ground mining conveyor belt is composed of highly flammable petrochemicals. If used in an underground mining application, there’s a good chance that the belt can combust and present a severe safety hazard.
Underground mining belts are made of flame-resistant materials. Special agents, impregnation paste, and rubber components are added during manufacturing to help decrease the friction factor and increase fire resistance.
The selection of an above-ground conveyor belt is mainly determined by the properties of the raw materials you’re transporting. The levels of humidity, granularity, and abrasion characteristics are all essential factors in this decision.
For example, highly abrasive materials such as iron ore, metallurgic coke, and quartz will require a much sturdier belt than moderately abrasive materials, such as ash or sand.
Here’s a chart that delves into a comparison of the Depreux brand of above and underground mining conveyor belts:
|Element||DELTA or DELTA CFW Surface/Above-Ground Belts||Firewall™ – Firewall II™ Underground Belts||Firemaster™ -PVGUnderground Belts|
|Application||Transportation of bulk or other material in various mining and industrial sectors such as quarries, mines, paper and wood, glass, cement, steel, eg.||Both Firewall and Firewall II are belts used to transport bulk or other material in various underground mining and quarrying applications or any application in which MSHA Part 14 fire resistance is a requirement.||DEPREUX Firemaster-PVG belts offer a longer service life and are ideal for use in severe operating conditions such as moving large material, high-speed systems, long distances, steep slopes, risk of impact damage, edge wear, or longitudinal tearing.|
|Tensile Strength||Tensile strength 150 PIW to 2000 PIW using 2 to 5 plies.||Tensile strength 150 PIW to 2000 PIW using 2 to 5 plies.||Ranges from a standard of 150 PIW to 2200 PIW|
|Width and Length||Standard 18” to 96” maximum. Tolerance +/- 1%. Wider belts are available.||Standard 36” to 84” maximum. The width tolerance is +/- 1%. Wider belts are available.||Thicknesses and weights vary for different specifications. Contact us for more details.|
|Belt Structure||The DELTA or DELTA CFW belt textile carcase is made up of layers of fabric, from 2 to 5 (or more) plies. Each of these is separated by a rubber layer. This «sandwich» structure enables the belt to absorb shocks.||The Fireshield™ and Firewall II™ belt carcase is made up of layered fabrics, from 2-5 plies. Each ply is separated by a rubber interlayer which enables the belt to absorb shocks.||Made out of a textile <> carcase that’s impregnated with a special PVC. The carcase is then further protected via a proprietary DEPREUX cover that provides special characteristics to ensure improved performance and longer life.|
|Belt Stretch||At 10% of belt nominal tensile strength: 1.5% max. Permanent stretch: around 0.7% and elastic stretch: around 0.5% for a standard carcase.||At 10% of belt nominal tensile strength: 1.5% max. Permanent stretch: around 0.7% and elastic stretch: around 0.5% for standard carcase||At 10% of nominal belt tensile strength: 1% maximum elastic stretch: 0.5% to 0.7% for a standard carcase. Permanent stretch: 0.4% to 0.7%|
|Main Mechanical Properties||Belt StretchAdhesion||Belt StretchAdhesion||Belt StretchFastenersMechanical Resistance|
NATURE OF MATERIAL TRANSPORTED
Under ideal conditions, the average lifespan of a mining conveyor belt is anywhere from three to ten years, depending on length, transfer design, etc. The nature of the bulk materials you’re transporting can also significantly affect belt lifespan.
For example, sharp, jagged, abrasive materials can damage the belt much faster. This is why it’s important to choose a belt that’s specifically designed for your application and is well-supported in the loading zone.
If your mining conveyor operates in an underground environment, it likely has to comply with MSHA Part 14 fire resistance requirements. Make sure you’re fully aware of the rules and regulations that can impact the type of belt you select for your conveyor to ensure you’re operating at maximum levels of safety, not to mention staying compliant.
Some belts are made to last longer than others, and certain factors like longevity and durability are important based on the particular type of environment.
Conveyors running underground or transporting material from mines and quarries pose greater demands on the conveyor belt than a line in a factory transporting empty boxes.
Understand your needs when it comes to durability and ruggedness. Failure to consider this could result in productivity loss and increased downtime.
Depending on the thickness of the belt fabric from top to bottom, there is a manufacturer-recommended pulley diameter that you’ll need to consider.
Belts can corrode—especially those that incorporate metals into their makeup. While corrosion may not be as much of a worry in a climate-controlled facility, it can pose challenges on underground conveyors where temperatures, UV light, moisture levels, and humidity tend to fluctuate.
BELT WIDTH & LENGTH
Since all belts aren’t made for the same applications, they aren’t constructed in similar widths or sizes.
For example, the belts you see on the conveyor belt systems in grocery store checkouts are much smaller in width and length than the ones you’d find underground transporting products from the mine.
While many belts can be custom-made to fit a desired length and width, it’s always best to know your sizing requirements.
The temperature of the materials you’re transporting is another vital consideration. For example, rock and ore that come straight from the ground could be as hot as 220°F. While this is not enough to catch the belt on fire, it could potentially cause irreparable damage.
A belt designed with specific thermal properties can help mitigate damage caused by high-temperature materials.
Check out our Mining Conveyor Belt Maintenance Guide.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is a conveyor belt for coal?
A: Coal conveyor belts are specifically designed to safely and efficiently move coal from one area to another. West River Conveyors has over 40 years of experience building custom conveyors for the coal mining industry.
Q: Which type of mining uses conveyor belts?
A: Coal, rock, precious metals, iron ore, lead, and lithium are just a few examples of mining operations that use conveyor belts.
Q: What is a quarry conveyor belt?
A: A quarry conveyor belt moves materials, such as sand, gravel, rock, marble, or crushed stone from a quarry site to an endpoint.
Q: What is TPH in a conveyor?
A: The acronym “TPH” stands for “tons per hour” and is a critical measurement that determines the ideal conveyor belt to use on a mining conveyor system. It measures how many tons of rock or ore per hour the conveyor belt moves. TPH correlates to belt speed or how fast the belt moves.
SELECTING THE BEST MINING CONVEYOR BELT
Don’t overlook the mining conveyor belt when designing the conveyor system for your next project. While there are many different types of conveyor belts to choose from, they are a key piece of the overall puzzle that helps ensure productivity and that your profit goals are not only met—but exceeded.
West River carries a full line of products like Cobra/Depreux Fireshield and Deltatherm belts, conveyor belt replacements, and more. Contact us for more information.