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POCKETLIFT vertical conveyor: a case study

Published by
World Coal,

Space-saving, environmentally friendly and efficient: this is POCKETLIFT® from the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group. In terms of conveying height and capacity, this conveyor system is the most advanced continuous conveying technology for the vertical transportation of bulk materials. With lifting heights of up to 700 m (2300 ft) and capacities of up to 6000 tph, it sets new standards in continuous vertical conveying. As shown at the White County Coal mine in Carmi, Illinois, POCKETLIFT is perfect for conveying materials in underground mine shafts and allows cost-effective and efficient mining operations.

White County Coal: the first mining company to use the technology

White County Coal was the world's first mining company to use the technology for vertical conveying in its own mine. Even today, it still operates the world's largest POCKETLIFT installation. The company chose POCKETLIFT because it helped to double the conveying output in the mine without the need to sink a conveyance shaft with standard dimensions. Instead, the new shaft measures nearly 12 ft in diameter. Consequently new coal deposits could be accessed and transported without making large-scale investments or taking up a lot of space. The company has been using POCKETLIFT for around a decade now and the technology has proven itself in daily use. Since 2002, the system has transported over 38 million t of coal to the surface.

The compact structure of POCKETLIFT makes it an especially attractive proposition for the mining industry. While other transportation systems are made entirely from steel, the POCKETLIFT conveyor is much more lightweight. The system comprises two narrow steel-cord belts that are connected by rigid triangular cross bars. These cross bars also have a guiding function.

The material is transported in fabric-reinforced rubber pockets that are bolted to the middle of the cross bars. The pockets can be installed and removed individually. This structure makes POCKETLIFT much more compact than conventional conveyor systems and therefore ideal for handling materials in mining shafts. Thanks to the minimal space required in the vertical section, the system can also be used with very small shaft diameters. "This criterion offers an immense advantage for underground mining," says Friedhelm Litz, innovative products manager at the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group. "In many cases, even an existing ventilation shaft can be used. This helps to reduce construction costs".

Another advantage for system operators is that POCKETLIFT saves energy and, in turn, money. The cost per tonne of bulk material conveyed is well below the average: energy consumption per tonne and 100 m (328 ft) of lift height stays below 0.3 kWh. This allows mine operators to save on energy supply. Thanks to low noise emissions, the conveyor system also has a much smaller impact on the environment than other products.

White County Coal: a success story is continued

Every POCKETLIFT is a custom design, specially tailored to the application in question. For White County Coal, ContiTech – in collaboration with its long-standing US partner FKC Ltd. has created a solution with a lifting height of 276 m (905 ft). This system is around a quarter of a kilometer in height and transports up to 1815 tph. With 782 pockets, the conveyor belt has a total weight of around 100 t and is extremely lightweight compared with conventional shaft conveyor systems. "Thanks to the POCKETLIFT technology, the head gear of the shaft could be reduced to a minimum," explains Litz.

Even after more than a decade, White County Coal is still pleased with the POCKETLIFT technology. The company has already renewed the system: "After conveying 30.5 million t with the first conveyor belt over almost nine years, the system was due for replacement," said Chris Russell, the responsible mining engineer at the White County Coal mine. Not only is replacing a conveyor belt a highly complex logistical task but it also entails downtime for the mine, so it is essential that it can be replaced as quickly as possible. This is another area where POCKETLIFT scores highly. Thanks to its easy handling and excellent planning, the replacement of the belt in the White County Coal mine took one week less than originally scheduled. As a result, POCKETLIFT gave the customer yet another reason to stick with this conveyor system in the future.

Written by ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group.

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