The company began the project by arranging a cross-site team to see poly rollers in action at a site in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. This then led to the trial at Kestrel.
Apart from the noticeable sound difference to conventional steel rollers, poly rollers are also lighter, using less energy, while the recyclable poly rollers can also be removed easier and remelted.
A Rio Tinto Coal Australia spokesperson told Australian Longwall Magazine the Kestrel trial used a full conveyor in the coal plant and achieved a successful result, with no failures to date and a real decrease to noise in the area.
Kestrel has now begun to replace failed steel rollers with poly rollers across the surface operation, while a number of different makes of poly roller have been trialled across Rio’s coal minesites with varying degrees of success.
“From a manual-handling point of view, the poly rollers are much lighter than steel,” the spokesperson said.
“They are also corrosion-resistant – less material adheres to their surface – and they have some sustainability gains, such as being easily recycled and using less power to operate.”
However, more conventional rollers still have their use at Kestrel.
“The poly rollers are not being used in the high-impact areas, or in areas where materials need to be weighed,” the spokesperson said.
“These areas are continuing to use steel or rubber rollers.”
Kestrel will continue to use the roller for some time to come after announcing last month the mine’s $US991 million expansion project would go ahead.
Rio Tinto had decided to review the project in light of the current economic downturn.
The result of the review was the operation would use company staff more and contractors less. The spokesperson said the changing market environment had created opportunities, including more internal resources for managing the work.