Maintenance and repair costs a top concern in 2024

Two thirds of the respondents (69%) said energy was responsible for the steepest price rises, while 65% of respondents said maintenance and repair bills were a big concern, up from 47% the year before. Explosives ranked in the top three for price pressure, but less so than in 2022, reflecting the drop in ammonium nitrate prices.   

Fuel price concerns have also lowered somewhat reflecting the drop in global oil prices, but maintenance and repair cost pressure was higher in 2023, with respondents reporting price rises of between 6% and 20%, prompting an overwhelming number to seek new suppliers, much higher than in 2022.

Credit: GlobalData Mine Site Surveys, August and September 2022 and October and November 2023

These findings do not surprise Leigh Carlson, chief executive officer of Fluid Control Services, who can testify to a recent surge in enquiries for the firm’s custom-made hydraulic cylinder “boots”. The US company produces a unique and patented product called the Seal Saver, which is designed to fit snugly over the hydraulic system in haul trucks, excavators and other heavy mining equipment and prevent damage and corrosion by silt-sized particles. It extends and contracts like an accordion, providing continuous protection for expensive mining equipment.

Speaking to Mining Technology, Carlson says that the Seal Saver, which attaches to a machine’s rod and cylinder head with fasteners, can extend the lifespan of a cylinder by up to three times.

“Repairing a hydraulic cylinder can cost between US $2,000 and US $20,000,” she says. “Almost all repairs will have a much higher cost than the purchase price of a Seal Saver. This is low-tech preventative maintenance, and it can really help bring operating costs down.”

Mining operators can install the Seal Saver quickly using only a screwdriver and start saving on maintenance costs immediately.

It has more than 8,300 patterns, made to order and designed to work in the world’s harshest conditions, including steel mills and oil rigs. Carlson’s father created the product, which resists oil, water and chemicals, and she is excited for its future potential, particularly how in the current climate of economic volatility and budget pressure, it can help to protect machinery from premature failure and minimise downtime.

Low-tech ROI

“The beauty of the product is its simplicity and ROI,” says Carlson, who also highlights how the Seal Saver can improve worker safety outcomes in hazardous conditions.

“Mining technology like robotics in explosives charging machinery is being developed to improve the safety culture in mines and the Seal Saver is a low-cost solution which can have an outsized impact on worker safety as underground mining goes deeper to access essential minerals. The Seal Saver can prevent hydraulic cylinders from suddenly exploding.

“They are being used in some of the most aggressive environments around the world, including waste management, quarries, ocean vessels and wind turbines, as well as mining and other heavy industries. Stop replacing your hydraulic cylinders and start protecting them,” she adds.

For more information on cost-effective ways to protect your heavy machinery, download the free paper below