Publication Details

Grima, A. P., Fraser, T., Hastie, D. B. & Wypych, P. W. (2011). Discrete element modelling: trouble-shooting and optimisation tool for chute design. Beltcon 16 Proceedings (pp. 1-26).


Conveyor transfer stations play a key role in many industries that handle bulk materials. Transfer stations can be rather sensitive to changes in material properties and can lead to relentless problems regarding reliability, wear, bottlenecking and blockages. Wet and sticky ores are typically difficult to handle materials due to their obnoxious ability to form a cohesive arch, adhere to surfaces and poor flow ability. Mines that are situated in areas with seasonal high rainfalls or that have started to exploit newer and more difficult to mine and handle ores, often from below the water table, experience vast difficulty in reliably conveying and processing bulk material with such diverse flow ability over time. Mining and processing operations which add water into bulk solids for processing purposes also may experience handling issues further along the handling and processing line. Cohesive and adhesive effects of wet, sticky ore on transfer stations which contain impact plates, ledges and curved or straight chutes can make it difficult to design a system to reliably guide material in the direction of the receiving belt. Therefore, the usage of the discrete element method (DEM) to model the flow of cohesive and cohesionless materials through industrial transfer stations is increasing. This paper gives a short overview of the implementation of DEM to trouble-shoot and optimise a transfer station and shed some light on the strength and weaknesses of DEM. Some of the vital calibration techniques used to 'tune' the DEM material model using numerous bench-scale tests to produce representative flow behaviour of wet, sticky ores is also discussed.