Russell Mineral Equipment deploys first semi-automated mill relining system

Mill relining systems technology provider Russell Mineral Equipment (RME) has collaborated with existing customers including PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) to deploy the world’s first semi-automated mill relining system.

The mill relining systems manufacturer says this will deliver ‘significant’ safety and commercial outcomes for its customers and the wider industry. 

RME’s automated system addresses the two main phases of mill relining, including the worn liner removal and new liner placement, alongside enabling the completion of these necessary maintenance processes without anyone inside the mill. 

Russell Mineral Equipment founder, Executive Chairman, and Chief Engineer Dr John Russell says the company’s goal has been to enable customers to reline mills without having to be inside, and provide safety and efficiency benefits. 

“By eliminating human-machine interaction, we can speed up the machines and relining processes, consistently and repeatedly. This advanced capability is now a reality.”

The centrepiece of RME’s semi-automated mill relining system – the RUSSELL 7 Model R AutoMotion Mill Relining Machine (MRM) – is a highly advanced configuration of the industry’s most adopted 7-axis liner exchange machine, the RUSSELL 7 MRM.

It is complemented by THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY, a semi-automated knock-in system used on the exterior of the mill. Operational since 2020 at sites in Central America and Indonesia, SKYWAY is well-proven. This technology is now also available as a portable lift-in solution called THUNDERBOLT SKYPORT. It is another automation of RME’s established technology that increases asset utilisation by being shareable between mills onsite.

RME says these systems paired with INSIDEOUT technology tooling and compatible liner and bolt design, can grab knocked-in worn liners off the shell or from the charge and place new liners against the shell with millimetre precision and without personnel working inside the mill. 

Russell Mineral Equipment Non-Executive Director and previous Chief Engineer Peter Rubie says miners of all sizes can use the base components and then include additional automation steps at their own pace. 

“For some of our customers, even one hour of downtime can cost upwards of US$200,000 of production. We can avoid these impacts by automating existing proven systems.”

Director Metallurgy and Strategic Planning at Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), Dr John Wilmot summed up the outcomes FCX is seeing as safer and faster mill relining at the recent SAG 2023 conference in Vancouver, Canada.

“PT-FI Indonesia has largely removed crew from inside the mill as we reline. While there are still a few residual activities where we need to enter, such as wash-down, we’re executing relines faster and safer than before. Mill relining is no longer on the critical path.”

Established in 1985, RME has grown to operate in 64 countries, has 12 international sales and service centres and employs more than 450 people globally.

It is a mill relining systems technology supplier. The company invents machine systems and service-based solutions for problems encountered in the world’s mining and mineral processing industries.

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Images: Russell Mineral Equipment
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Written By Aaliyah Rogan
Relocated from the East Coast in New Zealand to Queensland Australia, Aaliyah is a fervent journalist who has a passion for storytelling. When Aaliyah isn’t writing stories, she is either spending time with friends and family or down at the beach.