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Big market for versatile conveyor

A PERTH company has developed materials conveying technology it says could mark the end of large haul and dump trucks in mining, and revolutionise the bulk materials handling industry at ports.

Kewdale-based Innovative Conveying Systems International (ICSI) has developed a conveyer belt system that can transport bulk materials up and down inclines up to 80 degrees, and also turn corners down to a five-metre radius.

The 'Innovative' conveyer can also traverse difficult terrain and wind around obstacles.

The company was recently awarded a $700,000 grant to commercialise the technology in conjunction with the University of Newcastle.

Technical consultant to ICSI Norman Daffen said the unique system had the potential to revolutionise the industry.

"It's not a case of somebody else can do it, there is nobody else that can convey material like this," Mr Daffen told WA Business News.

"There are pipe conveyers, tube conveyers, pneumatic conveyers, there are ordinary conveyers, trough conveyers, and bucket conveyers; but no other company in the world can do what is being developed here."

ICSI managing director Michael Pietsch said the technology had myriad applications, particularly in mining, but also in ship loading and the delivery and handling of materials at ports.

The system can be implemented as a ground-mounted installation, or configured for mobile requirements, making it particularly suited for continuous surface mining use.

The conveyer can also be suspended from a ceiling or rock-bolted to the side of a decline in underground mines.

Mr Pietsch said the system addressed some of the problems that hindered the bulk transportation of materials at ports or on mine sites, including path-routing and dust containment.

Although upbeat about the project, Mr Pietsche would not be drawn on whether the invention would completely eliminate the use of haul trucks in mines.

"From a manpower point of view, a safety point of view, absolutely. From an energy point of view, it's far more efficient, especially now that everyone wants to be green," he said.

"We've had nothing but enthusiasm and praise from all. That is, the mining companies themselves as well as the engineering houses.

"We just want to mine efficiently; how that affects the market is another thing.

"We certainly have the potential of being far more efficient in terms of fuel usage and kilowatts expended per tonne, but how that affects the market will be up to the market itself."

Rio Tinto Iron Ore subsidiary Hamersley Iron has collaborated in the development of the project, which has been researched over 10 years at a cost of $13 million.

Last year the system won the category of excellence in transport and/or conveying at the Australian Bulk Handling Awards in Sydney.

Mr Daffen and financial consultant Stewart Graham are helping ICSI raise funds to commercialise the system.

Mr Graham said ICSI was evaluating its options with regards to raising the funds.

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