Improving reliability and productivity at Syncrude Canada Ltd. through materials research: Past, present, and future

Abstract The annual budget for the repair and maintenance of equipment at Syncrude Canada Ltd. is in excess of 450 million dollars. Of this amount, a significant portion can be attributed to the loss of material on various pieces of equipment throughout the operation. In order to effectively battle the different wear and corrosion mechanisms that lead to material loss, it is important to understand how materials behave in the environments in which they are used. Since the start of production in 1978, the identification, development, and application of wear protection
has been an ongoing challenge due to the abrasive nature of the oil sands and the massive volumes of materials that are moved. The use of various materials and application processes along with component design modifications has resulted in significant improvements in both productivity and reliability.

In an effort to continuously improve the operation, Syncrude has been quick to adopt new wear technologies. Since the start of operation, a variety of materials has been used to increase wear performance and ultimately equipment reliability and availability (see figure). Although this figure does not show a time axis, the bottom axis may also be used to represent a time progression
for the predominate use of these materials at Syncrude. Tungsten carbide metal matrix composite (WCMMC) overlays are currently the materials of choice for most of Syncrude’s critical production applications. Metal matrix composite overlay technology has the potential for significant improvements and Syncrude is actively working with powder consumable manufacturers to advance this technology.

The introduction of the hydrotransport process has resulted in new material performance issues that require a reassessment of how to best protect components from various damage mechanisms. Tungsten carbide metal matrix composites have also been improved in recent years and currently offer the best wear protection for many wear applications. As such, considerable effort has been focused to optimize the performance of these materials.

This paper will review some recent field trials where materials research has demonstrated the potential for significant
improvements in equipment run life and reduced maintenance costs.These field trials will demonstrate the need for understanding the interaction between various damage mechanisms and the materials used in different services.

The paper will also discuss the following results:

Understanding how materials are affected by service environment is critical to maximizing equipment reliability and
availability.
Optimization of tungsten carbide metal matrix composites
for a given abrasive medium requires an understanding of the interaction that occurs between the abrasive particles and wear-resisting material. An optimal hard phase particle size distribution and volume fraction loading likely exist for different abrasive geologies.
The reduction of continuous hard phases present in NiCrBSi matrix materials used in tungsten carbide PTAW overlays allows multi-pass welds to be deposited and perform in impact environments with minimal chipping.
Corrosion should always be considered in wet slurry environments.
Keywords: Reliability, Productivity, Wear, Maintenance, Syncrude
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Summary: Percussion drilling equipment is widely used in quarries and construction sites. Having some prior knowledge of the potential performance of the selected rock drilling equipment is very important in rock excavation projects for planning and cost estimation purposes. Many investigators have tried to correlate drillability and various mechanical rock properties. However, to date there is no correlation between drillability and the coarseness index (CI) or median particle size (MPS) value. In...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): S. Kahraman, K. Develi, E. Yasar
Keywords: Percussive drills, Penetration rate, Coarseness index, Median particle size, Statistical analysis.
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: LKAB’s Kiruna mine is a large-scale sublevel caving iron operation, located in northern Sweden. Sublevel caving leaves intrinsically no support between the undercut hangingwall and the footwall, so that the hangingwall deforms, fractures, and then caves.The limits of the deformation, fracture, and caving zones widens as the mine deepens.

LKAB has made significant efforts to monitor the deformation zone and predict when it will reach the town of Kiruna, which is located on the hangingwall...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): E. Henry, C. Mayer, H. Rott
Keywords: Interferometry, InSAR, Kiruna, Mining, Subsidence, SAR, Satellite
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: Introduction

A campaign during the greater part of 2001 at Noranda’s Brunswick mine concentrator investigated the role of gas (air) distribution to the cells in the final Zn cleaning stage. Air-flow was measured as the superficial gas rate (Jg, i.e. the volumetric flow rate per unit cell crosssection) using the Jg sensor designed by the McGill mineral processing group. The distribution is referred to as the “Jg profile.” The final stage comprises two parallel banks of seven Denver DR 100...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M. Cooper, D. Scott, R. Dahlke, J.A. Finch, C.O. Gomez
Keywords: Air distribution, Profiles, Flotation circuit, Sensors, Brunswick mine
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: In 2000, CANMET-MMSL was engaged by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (OMOL) to conduct a study of the practices, in several key mining jurisdictions, of determining the criteria that are used to decide when the wire ropes used in mine hoisting are to be retired from service. Subsequently, the author visited key officials and institutions in North America, Europe, and Africa. Material from Australia was also included.

The report that resulted included, among other sections: (1) the history of...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): J.E. Udd
Keywords: Wire ropes, Testing techniques, Mine hoisting
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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Summary: Agnico-Eagle, LaRonde Division, operates the deepest single-lift shaft in North America. Its Penna shaft successfully introduced lower rope safety factor hoists to Canada based on a code of practice developed in South Africa.

End loads permitted on hoisting ropes are legislated and fall into two broad categories. Rope selection can be based on fixed factors, such as a capacity factor of 7.5 and a safety factor of 5.0, or based on a formula where the factor depends on the suspended rope...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): B. McLaughlin
Keywords: Hoisting, Deep shaft, Safety, Regulations
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
Text
Summary: A fuel cell mine production locomotive has been designed and tested in the context of a number of mining proof-of-concept projects. The mining industry is poised to take advantage of the benefits of fuel cells to address pressing issues such as underground air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs.

The locomotive’s simple electric-powered motor and controller system was ideal to study hydrogen power plant operation, underground use, risk and regulatory requirements,...
Publication: CIM Bulletin
Author(s): M.C. Bétournay, G. Desrivières, P. Laliberté, J. Chan, B. Replogle, A.R. Miller, D.L. Barnes, H. Bursey, D. Sprott, T. MacKinnon
Keywords: Design, Testing, Fuel cell, Production locomotive
Issue: 1083
Volume: 97
Year: 2004
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