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Fenner Conveyors create colourful contribution to community

Published in the Australian Bulk Handling Review

Fenner Conveyors are rolling out four new conveyor systems for a major coal mine. ABHR finds out more about the company’s engineering expertise and how it brought about a colourful contribution to the community.

Kestrel Coal Resources announced it would make use of a new section at its mine, which involved upgrading the longwall conveyor system.

It conducted a tendering process for the 500’s Conveyor Project, selecting Fenner Conveyors to deliver the solution across the three-year contact. This included the supply of four conveyors and all belting required, with mechanical and electrical engineered equipment delivered by ACE, and belting delivered from the Australian manufacturing facilities for Fenner Dunlop Conveyor Belting.

When Fenner Conveyors began working on the project, it was tasked with delivering one brand-new conveyor system and three others to be retrofitted to the existing infrastructure on site.

One of the major parts of the project is the belt maintenance system and storage system upgrade.

Traditionally, the site had not used an automated, permanent belt maintenance system, instead preferring to use mobile equipment. The initial plan was to install the permanent systems on some of the conveyors, and to use existing solutions on the remaining conveyors.

However, after seeing the improvements in belt rigidity – which also improved the belt tracking, control, safety, and maintainability of the system – Kestrel worked with Fenner to incorporate this equipment into all four systems.

Just over one year into the project, the two teams are in constant communication with one another. Sean Stevenson, project lead, said the businesses regularly hold meetings and provide clear reporting both ways.

“We communicate near daily and can adapt to changes in scope if required,” Stevenson said.

“It’s vital to offer that transparency – make Kestrel aware of things as they happen and don’t hold secrets.”

This communication allows the teams to handle the changing needs of a dynamic mine environment.

Stevenson said the team is flexible and was able to adapt to a change of installation plans to ensure Kestrel could move faster into the development process.

“We had a smaller window to install the first conveyor and had to change it to a two-stage processes. We did it in piecemeal and had a second phase for the installation and commissioning,” he said.

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ACE designed standardised substations for easier maintainability and safety.

Shane Wilson, regional manager of ACE NSW, said the project also involved the upgrade of all head-end substations.

“Kestrel wanted standardised substations that would be identical for easier maintainability and safety,” Wilson said.

“Originally the specification called for separate enclosures for items like the winch starter, which was discussed in design reviews. The supplies are now consolidated into the substation starter, while maintaining the transport dimension requirements.

“This reduces installation time, improves reliability and simplifies the system overall especially for a relocatable maingate system.”

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The first conveyor was painted blue to represent the Breast and Prostate Cancer Awareness, with a $15,000 donation presented to the Breast and Prostate Cancer Awareness Association of Qld in August 2022 when the conveyor was delivered to site.

Community conveyors

During a regular meeting, the two teams began discussing how they could promote the work that was happening at the mine and support the local community.

Together, they jointly developed the idea of creating a community fundraising campaign for the duration of the 500’s Conveyor Project, and beyond. Each conveyor would be painted a different colour to represent a charity in the local region.

“From our side, there’s been a positive response. People are becoming more socially aware and want to see their work have a benefit for society. If we can support our client and contribute to advancing the communities in which we operate, it’s something we can all be proud of,” Stevenson said.

The local community has welcomed the campaign and is already seeing the benefits. Funds raised by the collaboration will go towards the Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland, Headspace Emerald, Emerald Neighbourhood Centre, and Emerald Men’s Shed.

Mark Wilcock, head of ACE Queensland, said the team have been honoured by the support shown by Kestrel to-date.

“The feedback on the quality of work conducted and our ability to meet the schedule has been really positive so far. Kestrel have commended our team on their efforts, especially considering the complexity of the project and the extremely challenging global supply conditions we have all been oeprating in.”

“What helps set us apart is the fact we can deliver the entire package. Our teams have in-depth knowledge of the mechanical and electrical systems, along with how they interact with the belting. Ultimately, this results in a highly reliable, state-of-the-art conveyor system,” Wilcock said.

Wilcock said Kestrel and ACE will continue to work closely with each other throughout the project and beyond.

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Conveyor equipment painted green for Headspace Emerald at ACE workshop in Mackay.