Soaring maintenance costs and consumption of spare parts
The Nkomati Nickel Mine, established in 1997, is located in Machadodorp within the mineral-rich area of South Africa’s Limpopo Province. In 2007 Norsk ARM, the world’s third-largest copper producer and a major player in the global aggregates markets, acquired Nkomati, the only primary nickel mine in South Africa.
Nkomati’s operations are comprised of a large, conventional open-pit mine that feeds ore to the process plant, consisting of an Allis Chalmers Primary Gyratory crusher 54/75, Metso apron feeders, as well as a SAG mill and two parallel ball mills. Each ball mill feeds a hydrocyclone that separates acceptable product from material that needs further comminution.
Despite being a low-cost miner and producing a diverse range of end products, such as nickel, copper, chrome and platinum group metals, plunging metal prices have recently put the mine under considerable pressure to cut costs while maintaining or even increasing production.
Major reduction in unplanned breakdowns
Some of the mine’s main pain points were the extremely high consumption of spare parts and the high costs associated with that, as well as the need to improve the maintenance and reliability of key machines within the crushing, grinding and related process areas. Metso was asked for recommendations on ways to help get these cost areas under control.