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Polymer Advances Extend Life for Mining | Mineral Equipment

In the past, the success of Polymer coatings has been limited when faced with extreme abuse caused by friction and corrosion of mining operations. In addition, the climate often prevented onsite application.

Sample of uncoated mining hopper car

Today, advancements in both chemical development and the application process allow Polyurea and Polyurethane to make significant inroads toward extending the life of equipment. No longer do mining companies have to accept the damage from harsh impact, abrasion, vibration and corrosion.

Example of Coated Hopper Car

Mining and Mineral Processing

Mineral Ore is one example of mining that is hot, jagged, heavy, and becomes corrosive in slurry. Once it is extracted from the ground, the many phases of moving, preparing, and refining the ore take a toll on all of the unprotected equipment. These include sluices, gates, conveyors, ore cars, diggers, crushers, and cleaners. Every piece of equipment is damaged and worn. Once rusted, deterioration accelerates.

Washing plant for iron ore

Polyurethane and Polyurea Characteristics

Polyureas and Polyurethanes are proven to have distinct advantages when being used in heavy industrial applications such as mining. In addition to corrosion resistance, impact protection, and abrasion barrier, these coatings reduce noise and vibration that can cause extra wear on bolts and gears. They can be applied with a smooth finish to promote sliding or textured for slip resistance. Depending on the applications, thickness can vary from 1/16 inch to 4 inches. Polymers range in relative hardness and tear strength and spraying conforms to the substrate.

When minerals are wetted to form slurry for easy travel, this incredibly corrosive and abrasive mixture can cause the sluice riffles to wear unevenly and quickly. An encapsulation coating keeps the shape of the sluice and prevents the separate parts from corroding.

Sample Mining sluice public domain | Wipware

Because ArmorThane products can have pigment added when applied, they offer color advantages. Impact and wear areas are a constant maintenance concern. Backstops and deflection plates have tons of ore and rubble striking them weekly (if not daily). While these coatings don’t crack or peel, the constant friction will eventually wear the material thin. By applying a pigment, the polyurea or polyurethane coating not only reduces impact and improves the replacement life of that deflection plate, coats of different colors can give the maintenance team a visual inspection marker. For example, the base coat can be Caution Orange with a topcoat of Grey polyurethane. When the Caution Orange starts to show beneath, it is time to schedule a quick spray-on repair.

Beyond Equipment

Severe demands put on equipment from moisture, temperature, dust, chemicals, and abrasion can be countered by combining the strength of metal with the durability of polymers. In addition to equipment, the entire corrosion-susceptible environment including steel, concrete, wood and various geotextile materials will benefit from being sprayed with plural-component polymers.

Creating a seamless membrane with ArmorThane sprays prevent leaks that can lead to major spill problems. This process is used routinely in oil fields and other chemical holding areas for primary and secondary containment.

Polyurethane spray foam hardens to fill in cracks of varying sizes, reinforce highly fractured and unfractured rock for added stability, and prevent minor groundwater inflow. Where earthen backfill is not readily available, the foam is recommended for closing mine openings no longer in use.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) handbook, “Polyurethane foam products have been used in the coal mining industry as an effective way to aid in: sealing ventilation controls such as stoppings and overcasts; reducing the effects of high air velocities on the mine roof and ribs; helping stabilize the mine roof in high stress areas; and in building ventilation control structures.”

Spraying Set-Up

Polyurea and Polyurethane have proven cost and performance benefits for the mining and mineral processing industry. Equipment can be taken offsite for spraying in a workshop or ArmorThane’s Mobile Coatings Units can be place for onsite spraying. These MCUs are fully equipped trailers custom-built to match the desired outcomes. Products are fast curing and have no V.O.C. to pose danger to employees or the environment.

Leak proofing mining water tanks in Peru

Check out the video on how ArmorThane set up a project in Peru to leakproof water tanks used in mining.