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Maximizing your cost per ton

By |  November 21, 2017

Efficiently crushing and screening material comes down to effectively drilling and blasting at the end of the day.

The concept of change, particularly being open to change, was a common theme at this year’s Quarry Academy in San Antonio.

Aggregate producers everywhere are undoubtedly resistant to change in some form. Many have processed materials a certain way for years, maybe decades. And they’ll tell you that their approach to material processing works effectively.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” they’ll say.

But what if your approach to processing – the one that you regularly employ – was “broke” from the start? Odds are your approach isn’t completely “broke,” but minor improvements can surely be made to every production process.

Consider how the processes related to producing construction materials at your operation were instilled in your mind and validated over the years. Often, the rationale for doing something a certain way is because “this is how we’ve always done things around here.” Or, maybe an old-timer taught you a certain way, and you’ve methodically been following that person’s lead ever since.

Jeff Heinemann of Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology welcomes aggregate producers to Quarry Academy. Photo by Kevin Yanik

Neither rationale necessarily means you’re right. Or, that you’re processing material in the most efficient manner possible. So maybe it’s time for a change.

“At the scale house, it’s ‘X’ dollars per ton,” says Jeff Heinemann, vice president at Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology, whose company developed Quarry Academy as an educational service in conjunction with Dyno Nobel. “It doesn’t matter how you get there. If you get there by spending more money on explosives or detonators, with a drill that drills straighter holes, or if you move away from a cone and conventional crushing and screening circuit to impactors.

“All that really matters is what that cost is at the scale house.”

Creating change

Fortunately, aggregate producers aren’t limited to making improvements at the crush stage alone. They can institute process improvements up and down their value chain.

While a number of operators will zero in on crushing as the step that really nets them profits, the activities before and after sometimes provide benefits that are overlooked.

Two areas referenced at Quarry Academy where aggregate producers could elevate their dollars per ton are drilling and blasting.

“You could be looking at hours, if not days, to process rock if you don’t [drill and blast] right,” says Scott Giltner, senior project engineer at DynoConsult, a division of Dyno Nobel.

Still, instituting change, even when a need blatantly stares you in the face, is easier said than done.

“The challenge for everybody is that things have been done the same way for so long,” says Bill Hissem, senior mining engineer at Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology in North America. “But improvement means change. Change means habits need to shift. That’s the challenge.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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