Insights from industry

Reducing Fuel Consumption in Mining with Equipment Rebuilding

insights from industryFrancois NellPortfolio Manager - Rebuilds and UpgradesSandvik

AZoMining speaks to Francois Nell at Sandvik about the importance of mining sustainability and why equipment rebuilding and upgrades play their part in reducing fuel consumption.

Why is sustainability so important in mining?

Extraction of virgin raw materials has a high carbon footprint, and the mining industry plays an important role when it comes to reducing emissions, so that we can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Reducing the mining industry’s direct-and-indirect carbon emissions and increasing the service life of equipment/tools are very important, both for our business and the planet.

We have three main sustainable categories to carry on in every business sector: economic, environmental and social aspects.

Sustainability must be considered at every level - from the design and sourcing of equipment manufacturers to the user’s use and material processing at the end of life.

In the first category, sustainable economics, we have to make sure the whole supply chain tackles challenges with materials, price increases and delivery volatility, availability and delay.

Energy, material and productivity efficiency are also crucial. As demand for minerals and energy is anticipated to rise further, ore quality decrease and cost of accessing the ore increases. The mining sector has a lot of work to do to reduce its environmental impact and we have to maintain sustainable development if we want investors to have faith in our sector in the future.

Social aspects take sustainable development goals (SDGs) into account in the mining sector, with health aspects and wellbeing featuring highly. Labor challenges are real, and we want to increase the quality of life of mine workers. The safety of our employees is one of the main social aspects to ponder in the mining sector and its importance should not be underestimated.

The mining industry has targets to reduce its climate impact, as well as minimizing land disturbance and sensitively closing and reclaiming exhausted mines.

How can mining companies improve sustainability?

mining sustainability

Image Credit: Mark Agnor/

Mining companies can reduce fuel consumption, increase energy efficiency, improve the service life of tools and equipment, use fossil-free electricity, and restore old mines, to name just a few areas.

We can become more sustainable by taking the concept of the circular economy more seriously – from sourcing to the end-of-life of the product – a cradle-to-grave perspective. Reducing, reusing and recycling materials will be key to this aim. It can be economically profitable and also reduce environmental impact at the same time.

Fuel consumption is a key concern for many industries, including the mining industry. What benefits do an effective rebuild strategy bring?

The idea behind rebuilding is to return the equipment back to its original performance level, which implies that this is the state at which the machine is the most fuel-efficient, and emits the least amount of exhaust emissions.

What are the key challenges with an equipment rebuild strategy?

One of the main challenges for a customer is to reduce the turnaround time of a rebuild intervention. If the machine is out of production, it is not generating revenue. Forecasting and planning are key activities in this process to ensure that the necessary components are sourced in time for the rebuild.

Are there any downsides to rebuilding rather than replacing mining equipment?

Different generations or technology levels of machines delay the implementation of newer generation products. However, the upside here is that operators do not need to be retrained.

Connectivity is a key trend in the mining industry at the moment – how can rebuilding equipment help to improve connectivity for companies?

While rebuilding a machine, it can be equipped with the necessary connectivity hardware to enable digitalization once the rebuild has been completed. Together with connectivity, rebuilding also allows various other available upgrades to be implemented.

How can Sandvik help companies with their equipment rebuild strategies?

I have seen how rebuilds have gone from ad-hoc type requests to becoming a full offering, and this demonstrates the value that customers see in rebuilding their assets to get the maximum value out of them.

Our portfolio takes care of the rebuild and upgrades offering in Sandvik, meaning we develop various solutions requested by customers for the purpose of rebuilding their equipment, or upgrading their equipment for safety, productivity, application, or lifecycle cost reduction requirements.

Through a consultative approach, the optimum intervention time and scope can be determined.  

What current projects is Sandvik working on?

We are currently developing rebuild solutions for surface, rotary and down-the-hole products.

What is your key takeaway for clients and the mining industry?

Equipment needs to be used to its full potential; therefore, rebuilding equipment makes sense. For a full scope of rebuild, a machine gets a new machine warranty since it is performed to the Sandvik standard.

Keeping a machine’s total cost of ownership as low as possible and availability as high as possible means maximized return on investment.

Where can readers find more information?

Rebuild solutions — Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology

Here for example is more information on sustainability in the mining sector.

About Francois Nell

Francois Nell is a Graduate Mechanical Engineer with a Government Certificate of Competency for Mines and Works obtained in South Africa. He started his career in the deep-level gold mines, where he was appointed as an engineer on a deepening and expansion project before moving into the equipment supply business, joining Sandvik in 2001.

He filled several roles, including workshop manager and key account manager and eventually moved with his family to France and later to Finland in various product management roles. One of these roles developed into a site management position following the acquisition of a family-owned business in Canada, where his time was spent integrating the new business into the Sandvik world, before leaving Sandvik in 2013 to turn his attention to surface mining and equipment supply, from where he returned to Sandvik in 2021, heading up the Rebuilds and Upgrades Portfolio.

He is passionate about getting his hands dirty and believes in understanding grassroots fundamentals as a part of making strategic decisions while empowering people to make decisions and take ownership.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Laura Thomson

Written by

Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an English and Sociology degree. During her studies, Laura worked as a Proofreader and went on to do this full-time until moving on to work as a Website Editor for a leading analytics and media company. In her spare time, Laura enjoys reading a range of books and writing historical fiction. She also loves to see new places in the world and spends many weekends walking with her Cocker Spaniel Millie.


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