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Maintaining Your Mining Equipment

The mining industry has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. People have been digging into the earth and extracting valuable things from it for a long time. And like all things – the mining industry has changed a lot over the course of history. When it began, large numbers of men would just begin digging and chipping into the earth by hand.

A photo of three miners drilling a hole in a mine.

Over time, the process became more automated, explosives and big machines dug deeper and faster. Instead of hauling the materials by hand or pushing them in a cart, now they’re transported along a belt or hauled away in a truck.

All these changes came about because of technology, and technology is changing faster than ever – even in the mining industry. For example, mines need to move all that material out of the mine to be processed. Many times, the most efficient way to do this is to combine the solids with liquid to form a slurry and move them through a pipe. For any of us who’ve clogged pipes in our home, we know putting solids through pipes can bring things to a complete stop. To prevent these blockages while still moving product in the most efficient way possible, VEGA monitors the density inside the pipe using radiometric technology with the MiniTrac 31.

A measurement tough enough for mines

Mines are harsh, dirty environments, which is why VEGA made the MiniTrac to last. It measures density without touching the product being measured. To do this, it uses two parts: the MiniTrac sensor and a radiometric source. The source emits gamma radiation through the pipe and the product being measured, the sensor detects the amount of radiation, and infers a density measurement. Once these units are installed and calibrated, they work with little to no maintenance for the life of the instrument.

Making up for lost time

A MiniTrac in operations in a mine

A lot has changed in the past 20 to 30 years, and instead of relying on what’s worked in the past, VEGA has developed the MiniTrac. After all, if we relied on past successes, we’d still be digging mines with shovels and pickaxes because it worked. The MiniTrac 31 is the latest technology in density measurement for the mining industry. It provides big upgrades from previous generations of densitometers.

For starters, the internal electronics are completely encapsulated and protected from the mine’s dirty, harsh environment. Previous models and competitors’ current models don’t include that extra layer of protection to keep the sensor working for decades to come, and they can be used with existing source holders. This new sensor is more compact and lighter, but the housing is still made with durable cast aluminum or stainless steel. And finally, guided setup with PACTware and modular plics® provides a simple on-board interface.

Modernizing the mine is easy

Upgrading from old to new is a matter of a simple switch. VEGA offers adapters that allow installers to simply retrofit the new generation instruments in the same spots the decades-old instruments existed. Those same mounting adapters come standard with the ability to mount directly in place of most competitors’ density meters. In most cases, the same source holder can be used, making the switch even easier. Old technology becomes new with a simple swap.

This article was originally published on 1/28/2019. It has since been updated with additional information.

Learn more

Radiometric continuous level, point level, density, and mass flow measurements

Making measurements in the world’s most challenging applications where process pressure, temperature, or conditions are too extreme for other measurement sensors.

The internal components of the MiniTrac

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