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Flexshield and the Mining Industry

Noise control solutions for machinery maintenance The modern mining industry...

Noise control solutions for machinery maintenance

The modern mining industry operates under extremely diverse conditions – from high altitudes to tropical conditions – where reliability and innovation are a must. This diversity does not come without risk.

Whether operating underground or on the surface, multiple risks are present in mining – many with the power to cause significant loss of life, loss of equipment, loss of production and income, as well as severe environmental damage.

In this article we’ll look at the different aspects of machinery maintenance for mining, and what noise control solutions are available.

Maintaining productivity through machinery maintenance

Carrying out maintenance on large, expensive mining machinery can be dangerous, no matter which maintenance option is chosen. Therefore, it is essential to have custom-made solutions to protect workers while they operate and maintain mining machinery.

Correctly establishing a working environment ensures the health, safety and productivity of mineworkers, while also reducing downtime for vital machinery.

The mining industry uses large, expensive machinery, including:

  • Longwalls for underground coal operations
  • Large mills for grinding ore
  • Winders for shaft operations
  • Ventilation fans
  • Refrigeration plants
  • Draglines
  • Shovels
  • Crushers
  • Excavators
  • Trucks
  • Dozers

Many mines’ maintenance budgets have been slashed, yet there is still an expectation to maintain productivity. Flexshield excels in helping the mining industry keep moving and minimise downtime.

Mining maintenance methods

Regular maintenance extends the life of mining machinery. For example, Cowal Gold Operation commissioned a Liebherr R994B back in 2005 – and thanks to regular maintenance and upgrades, the machine is now one of the oldest still in operation.

The mining industry uses a variety of methods to identify when maintenance is due for machinery, each with its own pros and cons.

Reactive maintenance

Breakdown or run to failure – i.e. fix things when they break. The downside to this method is that maintenance can be costly as it cannot be planned for.

Preventive (scheduled) maintenance

Periodically taking assets offline and inspecting or repairing them at predetermined intervals. The scheduled maintenance method extends the life of the machine and prevents downtime.

Predictive maintenance (PdM)

Aims to predict failures before they happen, so that maintenance can occur at the right time. PdM uses data from the machine’s sensors and smart technology to alert the maintenance team that a machine has a risk of failing.

Reliability-centred maintenance (RCM)

Since failure is not always linear, this method investigates failure modes of each piece of equipment to develop and customise a plan.

Selecting a maintenance method

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to machinery maintenance in mining. Working with a company like Flexshield will deliver the best option for your mine site.



Cost to Implement



Reactive Fix it when it breaks Low Ideal for low-priority equipment Can lead to runaway repair costs
Preventive Maintenance on a predetermined schedule Average The best strategy to implement without expertise Without optimisation “PM creep” can occur
Predictive Condition-based monitoring triggering work orders High Timely and informed monitoring. More insight into the causes of breakdowns Can be expensive to set up
RCM Investigation of failure mode to determine the best maintenance strategy Highest If executed properly, provides the most efficient maintenance schedule Requires time, skill and financial resources to be effective


Flexshield has developed solutions for machinery maintenance. Learn more about our solutions in our case studies, such as Mining equipment silenced with sonic curtains


Common mining risks

Working in the mining industry comes with high risks – not just for machinery but also for miners. Collaborating with a company such as Flexshield can assist in mitigating these risks, both for your machinery and your employees.



Ingress of groundwater or uncontrolled surface run-off (such as from flash flooding) can present a flood risk to both underground and above-ground mining operations. Historical loss of mining revenue from floods has been estimated at $2.3 – $3.5 billion.

The installation of boreholes and pump stations helps prevent water from entering mines. These systems are critical for the continuous dewatering of mining operations.

Flexshield solution: Acoustic louvres and acoustic enclosures are perfect for maintaining accessibility to pump stations while making sure they do not emit too much noise. This may adversely impact staff hearing.



Large magnitude mining-induced seismic events (such as earthquakes and rock bursts) can cause severe damage to mining excavations and support widespread simultaneous rock falls. This seismic activity is dangerous for mine workers and machinery.

Flexshield solution: There is little Flexshield can do to stop the seismic activity. However, when we work with a mine we are mindful of this activity when designing our solutions.


Conveyor bottlenecks

Ore is brought to processing facilities using conveyors, which can be tens of kilometres in length. For both underground and surface mines, these conveyors are of various capacities and speed and use conventional conveyor technology. They are generally covered along their length by sheeting.

The risk of underground conveyor belt fire can be increased depending on the ore being conveyed, e.g. highly flammable coal dust.

Flexshield solution: A fireproof enclosure around the most common features that spark a fire may be an option to reduce the spread of a fire.


Tailings and dam failure

Tailings (refuse material after the collection of extracted minerals) are deposited into storage ‘paddocks’ using a conventional day wall arrangement. Overland pipelines are used to transport the tailings.

Flexshield solution: We can assist mines in reducing the amount of noise emitted from the overland pipelines.


Machinery breakdown

The mining industry uses large, expensive machinery; and if there is a breakdown, it can cause bottlenecks and loss of production.

Flexshield solution:  The right maintenance materials will help to reduce bottlenecks and loss of production. They allow mine staff to work on machinery without fear of injury. See our case study: Sonic mobile panels for Rio Tinto



Underground coal mines are most at risk from fire or explosion as dust can easily ignite. The best way to control fire is to flood the mine, which increases equipment damage rates.

Flexshield solution: As with seismic activity, Flexshield cannot prevent fires at a mine site. We can, however, work with you to design solutions that will experience minimal distress from fire and the subsequent flood.


Talk to Flexshield for custom solutions to mining risks

When searching for solutions for your mine site, it makes sense to work with a company like Flexshield. Our expert team understand mining operations and the need to focus on quietening and maintaining equipment. For further information on mining solutions, contact Flexshield on 1300 799 969.