Working together helps the heavy lifting at Mount Isa Mines

The Mount Isa Mines Copper Smelter Engineering Projects team and George Fisher Mine (GFM) Fixed Plant Maintenance team have been working together to plan and schedule the use of a 350-tonne hydraulic crane onsite to achieve safety improvements, increased productivity and cost benefits for Queensland Metals.

In 2019, the GFM Fixed Plant Maintenance team purchased a completely new sheave design for the L72 Hoist, which is used for raising ore to the surface and onto conveyor belts where it travels for processing.

After arriving early this year, the team commenced an anticipated 12-day shutdown to install the new sheaves. To raise the sheaves to the top of the shaft and place them in their final position, a mobile 350-tonne hydraulic crane from Brisbane was required onsite.

GFM Hoisting and Shaft Supervisor, Justin Armstrong, says the team worked meticulously to ensure a successful outcome.

The new sheaves (white) about to be lifted for installation at the L72 shaft after removing the previous ones (grey).
The new sheaves in place and ready for action.

“Our strong teamwork, communication and dedication allowed us to successfully complete the installation and bring the new sheaves back into operation 24 hours ahead of schedule,” says Justin.

“There were no injuries, incidents or delays and we completed a thorough verification process with the manufacturer after installation to ensure the sheaves were safe to commence work.”

Around the same time, the Copper Smelter Engineering Projects team required a 350-tonne hydraulic crane to install their new Favco Tower Crane, which is an important piece of equipment used to conduct maintenance and operational activities within the primary smelting area.

Rather than each of the Copper Smelter and GFM teams separately trying to hire similar cranes or the same crane, which could have led to production delays and increased costs, the two jobs were coordinated allowing one crane to be used across both parts of our Mount Isa operations.

The L72 Hoist at George Fisher Mine before the sheaves were replaced.
The hydraulic crane (in yellow) installing the new Favco Crane at the Copper Smelter.

Mount Isa Mines Superintendent - Smelter Projects, Nick Donker, says the communication between the Copper Smelter and GFM Fixed Plant Maintenance teams to achieve this outcome was excellent.

“There was exceptional teamwork across the Operations, Maintenance and Isa Surface Fleet, and Copper Smelter teams during the crane replacement and we were able to bring it in ahead of schedule,” says Nick.

“Replacing the Favco crane at the Copper Smelter took into account 11 potential fatal hazards and the team worked diligently to ensure the work was conducted and completed safely.”

Our Queensland Metals Training Department also contributed by making special training arrangements for the Brisbane-based contractors so the work could begin on schedule and be completed safely.

The George Fisher Mine Fixed Plant Maintenance team at the base of the L72 hoist.

GFM Fixed Plant Maintenance Manager, David Bartolo, says that as a result of working collaboratively the teams were able to create a considerable cost saving for Queensland Metals by sharing the mobilisation and demobilisation expenses.

“Our number one priority is safety, but when we achieve this along with efficiency and productivity, it really brings out the best in our workforce,” says David.

“Our zinc and copper operations are all working together now as Queensland Metals so this has proven there are greater opportunities for collaboration across the business.”

“A main reason for combining our copper and zinc operations was to find opportunities such as these where we could improve our current processes and make the business more efficient and productive.”

“Accomplishments like these really bring our values and vision here at Queensland Metals to life. It’s great to see,” David says.