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Mines are well aware of the significant cost savings that can be achieved by using rubber to increase equipment life, but selecting the right product for the application is critical.
Perhaps the first issue to clarify is that there is no single lab test to provide a definitive answer, according to Yatheen Budhu, Product Manager Rubber Products, Hoses and Coils at Weir Minerals Africa.
“The industry standard test for rubber materials is the ISO 4649 dry abrasion test, but most wear materials on a mine exist in a wet environment,” Budhu explains.
“For this reason, our specialists at Weir Minerals have developed a modified version of the ISO 4649 test, the Wet Abrasion Resistance Index (Wet ARI) test which can be used for wet abrasion testing and is better suited to what happens actually on mine. The test was developed specifically to replicate wet mud wear conditions for elastomers and after many years of testing it has become the standard by which we can predict the wear of not only our rubber, but also that of our competitors, then classify them side by side. he explains.
He points out that the same wear material – such as mud, sand or aggregate – will behave differently under varying conditions. For this reason, Weir Minerals’ wear testing program includes unique tests such as the Weir Coriolis test, which is particularly suited to grinder pumps, as well as the Wet ARI test.
“The range of options can seem overwhelming, but selecting the right material for the job is key,” he stresses. “One error means a shorter lifespan and increases the risk of premature failures that could lead to unscheduled maintenance shutdowns.”
Budhu highlights the proven ability of natural rubber to resist abrasion, especially when its composition is close to the natural latex found in rubber trees. This is where Weir Mineral’s innovative manufacturing process makes all the difference.
“Each additional step in the production of rubber can damage its molecular chains and compromise the excellent abrasion resistance of raw natural rubber,” he explains. “Through our unique liquid-phase compounding process, we ensure that our premium rubber retains the essential properties of raw natural rubber, allowing it to offer an excellent lifespan.”
After nearly a century of successful operation in industrial and mining applications, Linatex® rubber is renowned for reducing long-term wear caused by fine particles, including wet and abrasive mining conditions. It is particularly suitable for low angle applications and its use includes the coating of pumps, pipes, hoses, chutes, valves and tanks.
Where coarser materials are involved, Weir Minerals offers its Linard® line of natural rubber compounds. This material combines great flexibility with excellent cut resistance, says Budhu. Linard® compounds also resist warping while providing non-stick properties.
“The choice of coating solutions goes beyond natural rubber to include synthetic rubbers,” he says. “These are formulated for use where harsh chemicals and high temperatures become a factor.”
For these applications, Weir Minerals has developed its Linagard® line of synthetic rubbers. These are resistant to the effects of acid and hydrocarbon leaching, as well as sludge with a temperature above 70⁰C.
“Rubber surfacing is a highly skilled process that, when done correctly with the correct type and thickness of rubber, can significantly contribute to a plant’s lifespan and profitability,” Budhu concludes.