Winter has impacted the mining sector recently, as the cold temperatures caused a temporary halt to mining tests in Wisconsin.

This winter's weather conditions have affected a wide range of events in different industries, including the closure of multiple facilities, putting a drag on a number of activities and initiatives. Mother Nature has impacted the mining sector as well, as the cold temperatures caused a temporary halt to mining tests in Wisconsin.

According to local news affiliate WHBL, freezing weather conditions slowed testing processes at the Gogebic Taconite mine site, located near Mellen, Wisc., in the Penokee Hills region. Although the frozen ground allowed workers to cross wetlands and perform tests at some drilling sites, equipment and operators suffered in the low temperatures. The company has approval to drill a total of 15 exploratory holes and plans to perform bulk sampling in the upcoming weeks.

Mining equipment reliability can be affected by temperature just as the weather can affect any other mechanical component. However, Welding International noted that the majority of equipment failure in areas with cold weather occur during the winter, when temperatures are at their lowest. Furthermore, as many components do not operate optimally in freezing conditions, repairs to correct issues caused by the cold can cost two to six times as much as the same fixes performed on machines operating in warmer regions. Therefore, it is vitally important that mining groups completing projects in cold areas take special care of their machines, including using equipment monitoring systems to alert employees as to when issues may arise.

Tips for cold weather machine conditioning
According to mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, special lubricants can be utilized in machines that provide improved performance in cold temperatures. Additionally, equipment operators can take a few steps to better prepare their components during cold weather. Workers should block the radiator to prevent air from reaching the fan and help the machine warm up faster. Employees should also be sure to keep all starting fluids at room temperature and only inject these compounds when the engine is fully running.

Caterpillar also recommends protecting the machine's cooling system from the environment to prevent any issues that could affect the arrangement's operability. As hydraulic hoses can be adversely affected by freezing conditions, workers should run the machine so that the hydraulic oil temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one hour before performing regular activities. 

However, the best protection against cold weather issues is an equipment monitoring system that boosts reliability. Utilizing this technology, operators can constantly be aware of a machine's health and service life.

Prevent unplanned downtime of critical assets by using Scanimetrics equipment condition monitoring solutions.