An Australian manufacturer has collaborated with mining operators to develop non-burning rubber screen media panels to help reduce fire risks at mineral processing plants.
Elastomers Australia general manager business solutions Pat Caputo said the industry was seeing an increase in fires, with the rising use of combustible materials likely to contribute to the problem.
“There are many benefits to using lighter weight plastics and rubber compounds for a broad range of applications across the industry,” Mr Caputo said.
“Screening, or the process of grading ore by particle size, is one such application.
“Screen media panels that contain various sized apertures to grade the ore are made of rubber or polyurethane compounds which perform well and are easy to handle.
“But these sorts of materials can also burn if they come into contact with an ignition source.”
It was that risk that had driven mine operators around the country to investigate the development of fire retardant alternatives and resulted in Elastomers Australia delivering a solution that was ready for market, he said.
“We were approached by an existing client who asked about potential solutions to the problem,” Mr Caputo said.
“We’d already commenced research into fire retardant materials and with the assistance of the client we were able to fast-track development of a tailored screen media solution.
“After initial fire tests proved successful, we rolled the screen media out across a number of sites to test its wear and other performance capabilities, and the results have been very positive.”