June 13, 2016
Portugal’s Aljustrel copper/zinc mine is back in business and on the road to becoming a world class producer. A strategy to successively increase the capacity and efficiency of the haulage fleet is proving to be a key factor in the mine’s new-found success.
After doubling its production from 1.2 Mt in 2012 to 2.4 Mt in 2015, the Aljustrel copper/zinc mine appears to be well on the road to a brighter future.
Once closed due to the global economic downturn, the mine has clearly been given a new lease of life by the current owners, Almina Aljustrel, and a new management strategy.
One of the reasons for the recent production increase was a strong focus on the efficiency of the haulage operation coupled with a decision to move up from 40 tonne trucks to 60 tonners, starting in 2015 with four Atlas Copco Minetruck MT6020 vehicles.
These trucks, which haul ore from the stopes to underground crusher stations, have not only helped to increase capacity but also to reduce the traffic congestion on the ramps.
The experience has now led to the purchase of three more Minetruck MT6020 trucks, completing the fleet that will underpin Aljustrel’s future development.
Joaquim Barreiros, Production Manager at EPDM, the owner’s sister company in charge of equipment and maintenance, explains the importance of the haulage strategy to production planning.
“Our objective is to reduce the overall size of the fleet by increasing the capacity of the individual trucks, while at the same time enhancing our production by getting more round trips per shift,” he says.
“The Minetruck MT6020 is well suited for this purpose. They are larger and faster and that will enable us to successively phase out our 40 tonners.”
There are two main orebodies at the site, Moinho and Feitais, linked by a 4 km long conveyor tunnel. Both sections are in production using the bench-and-fill method with Atlas Copco Boomer and Simba drill rigs.
The Boomer rigs are used for access roadways, 5 m x 5 m from the main ramp, while the Simba rigs are used for longhole production drilling.