From pit areas to roadways to refuelling points to the run-of-mine pad, there are many areas that require illumination for productivity and safety reasons, making mine lighting an important but challenging task. Increasingly many operators are also examining their lighting options in a bid to save money on fuel and help the environment. One example is Fortescue Metals Group, which approached Coates Hire about two years ago to provide an alternative LED lighting solution to replace metal halide lighting on its Cloudbreak iron ore site in Western Australia.
Stephen Lincoln, National Product Manager, Power and Light, at Coates Hire, says Fortescue wanted to take advantage of the latest technology to upgrade its lighting towers. The focus was on robust, quality lights that would deliver a reduction in operating costs and which could be used in a multitude of sites.
“The key was to find a product that could actually be used in a number of applications,” Lincoln says.
It soon became apparent that Fortescue needed a customised solution, not one that could be rolled out of a factory.
Coates Hire aligned with their leading mining light manufacturer and supplier AllightSykes to develop a product that would suit the mine’s needs. The result was a product that trumped other tenderers and would save Fortescue about 70 per cent in fuel burn, or roughly 1.3 million litres of fuel a year.
“With those extensive fuel savings, the environmental benefits are also very significant,” Lincoln says.
The final product delivered by Coates Hire is a six-headed LED lighting tower with narrow and wide-beam lenses designed precisely for Fortescue’s requirements across the mine site. It has commissioned Coates Hire to provide LED lighting systems for 150 towers, under strict time frames. By the end of 2014 Coates Hire had delivered 150 machines.
Lincoln says the tailored product that Coates Hire delivered is particularly focused on safety. “Any machine that we put into these environments, which are generally very regulated in relation to safety regimes, need to meet those criteria,” he says.
Lincoln says extra-low-voltage LED lighting technology is the way of the future for environments such as mining, as traditional gas-filled metal halide lights require bigger engines and more fuel.
“With the smaller engines that run the LED lights there are significant fuel efficiencies that we are driving,” says Lincoln, who notes that LED technology uses about 0.8 litres an hour compared to about 2.65 litres for the older engines. Furthermore, Lincoln says the new lights are extremely reliable, with fewer servicing requirements.
Grant Mack, General Manager – Mobile Light, AllightSykes says, “Creating supply certainty, allows us to more efficiently manage our supply chain, and these efficiencies result in lower costs of manufacture and an opportunity to provide lighting towers more economically to our customers.”
Lincoln says the success of the Fortescue product is leading to similar solutions being rolled out to other operators in the mining space, and more widely. He is particularly proud that Coates Hire delivered an exceptional solution for this very important contract, and of the successful partnership with AllightSykes.