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 together 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.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHOOSING A MINING CONVEYOR BELT
If you’re shopping for a conveyor belt, you should first decide your tensile strength requirement, cover thickness, and cover type depending on 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 leading considerations when making a belt selection.
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 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 serious safety hazard.
Underground mining belts are made out of flame-resistant materials. Special agents, impregnation paste, and rubber components are added during the manufacturing process to help decrease the friction factor and increase fire resistance.
The selection of an above-ground conveyor belt is mostly determined by the properties of the materials you’re transporting. The levels of humidity, granularity, and abrasion characteristics are all important 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 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 fabrics, 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 <|
|Belt Stretch||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 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 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 conveyor belt is anywhere from three to ten years, depending on length, transfer design, etc. The nature of the materials being transported 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 that 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.
Yes, belts can corrode—especially the ones that incorporate metals into their makeup. While corrosion may not be as much of a worry in a climate-controlled facility, it can pose some challenges on underground conveyors where temperatures, UV light, moisture levels, and humidity tend to fluctuate.
BELT WIDTH & LENGTH
Just as all belts aren’t made for the same applications, they certainly aren’t constructed in similar widths or sizes.
The belts you see on the conveyor belt systems in grocery store checkouts, for example, are much smaller in width and length than the ones you’d find underground transporting product 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 that you’re transporting is another important consideration. For example, rock and ore that come straight out of 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.
CONVEYOR BELT COMPOSITION
Conventional conveyor belts are comprised of three layers:
There’s the top layer, or cover, which is what the product rests on during transportation. The middle layer is also known as the carcass, which helps support the belt. The carcass tends to be made of either metal or woven fabric. Then, there’s the bottom cover to complete the belt makeup.
There are three popular types of conveyor belts for underground applications:
This belt makeup consists of various layers of fabric separated by rubber, which helps to deaden impact. Multi-ply belts tend to be longer-lasting.
Straight warps are ideal for tunneling applications. They’re most often used in rock quarries and rock crushers. Impact and tear resistance are the two premiere attributes of this conveyor belt type, which feature yarns and polyamide on both sides. Additionally, a straight-warp belt can achieve higher troughability at narrower belt widths and higher PIW ratings.
These belts are anchored by steel cables, which run the length of the belt.
Solid Woven Belts
Solid woven belts aren’t used very often in the U.S. They’re more popular in Europe and Asia.
SELECTING THE BEST MINING CONVEYOR BELT
Don’t overlook the belt when designing the conveyor system for your next project. It’s a key piece of the overall puzzle that helps ensure productivity and 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.