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David Brown upgrades Australian mining conveyor drive system

16 June 2006

David Brown is ahead of time with its management contract to overhaul and upgrade the massive conveying system at Australia’s Yallourn power station in Victoria – in turn part of a huge scheme that involves diverting the Morwell River and upgrading and modernising Yallourn mine. With the two year contract for Yallourn Energy (now called TRUenergy Yallourn) stipulating completion of fifteen conveyor drive assemblies by September 2006, the company has already completed that number as well as two gearbox spares in a clear demonstration of its asset management capabilities as well as its widely recognised technical prowess.

Extra work was also required following a serious fire in December 2005 that necessitated the urgent refurbishment and relocation of a number of drive conveyors in order to keep Yallourn operating. Concurrent with this urgent work was the refurbishment of critical drive gearboxes on a large overburden dredger which was undergoing upgrade at the same time - David Brown once again pulled out all of the stops to assist Yallourn Energy at this difficult time.

Each of the 25 year old conveyor drive assemblies comprise a 370kW or 610kW electric motor, gearbox, brake and fluid coupling, to absorb shock loading of the conveyors, all mounted on a base plate. While the gearboxes, of various origins, were transported from Melbourne and overhauled at David Brown’s own facilities at Bulli, New South Wales, the work on motors and couplings was subcontracted. The smooth running of the project therefore demonstrates the project management skills and QA knowledge of David Brown’s management team, and workforce.
Yallourn Energy had initially approached David Brown early in 2004 when the process of site visits and tendering was initiated. On signature of the contract in the following December the real work began which required fortnightly meetings on-site to ensure the smooth running of the project. The Principal’s requirements of stringent QA documentation, refurbishment to EOM standard or better, full load testing off site plus incorporation of condition monitoring devices on all refurbished equipment were challenges met by David Brown. David Brown has also undertaken additional refurbishment works on the Yallourn overburden dredger drives, all based on the main contract terms and conditions.

“The Yallourn contract has been a very steep learning curve for us,” commented David Brown Project Manager Geoff Kinniburgh. “We were confident that we had all of the necessary experience and expertise but quite frankly we had never handled a project of this scale and importance before. In completing the project successfully and ahead of time, I believe we have built a real reputation for ourselves in the field of asset management that will stand us in good stead for the future.”

In fact, as the two-year project approaches completion, David Brown is confident that it will be able to negotiate a possible extra 6-year renewal having demonstrated a much greater degree of ownership of Yallourn problems and challenges than previous asset management companies.

Yallourn W power station, located 160 kilometres east of Melbourne, provides 24 percent of Victoria’s power and 8% of the national requirement, while the adjacent open cut brown coal mine is the second largest in Australia with available reserves sufficient to meet the projected needs of the power station until 2032. To allow unimpeded access to the coal field a project was begun five years ago to divert the Morwell River and was recently completed on time. The 3.5 kilometre diversion is an impressive feat of modern engineering in itself and cost AUSD$122 million Australian Dollars (over £50M.) The mine upgrade and modernisation program was also undertaken in the five year period and involved works to fixed conveyor plant and infrastructure that totalled an additional AUD$50 million Australian Dollars (£20M).

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