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The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

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A. Cano, C.E. Arroyo, A. Curi, and P.H. Campos

Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting

A. Cano*, C.E. Arroyo, A. Curi, and P.H. Campos
*Federal University of Goias, Brazil
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil

In underground mining, loading and haulage operations have as their main goal to be
efficient, and the deeper they can reach the higher their costs are. The selection of a proper
system, or a combination of systems, depends upon the associated costs, as well as the
expected return on investment. Therefore, it is very important to properly evaluate the options
so as to make the right decision.
In this work, it is shown the sizing of a hoisting system depends on calculating the motor
power, rope diameter, sheave diameter, material volume to be moved, and work cycle
variables like frictional resistance, inertia, and acceleration that allow the system to reach
appropriate speeds. The rope, it should resist the tensile stress, considering safety factors. To
obtain an optimal solution to this multivariable problem, it is necessary to use nonlinear
modelling, which will provide a solution based on an objective function subjected to
Keywords: sizing, optimization, hoisting, nonlinear programming.
After technical studies have proved the feasibility of mining an orebody by an underground mining method, there are two
ways to bring the ore to the surface: (1) building a ramp and haulage of the ore with trucks, or (2) building a shaft and
hoisting the ore in a skip. The choice between the systems is closely connected with operational costs. When hoisting
system is chosen rather than haulage operation, it is so because the latter would be economically and technically unfeasible
(Harmant, 1992).
Therefore, the choice of the hoisting system allows solving the ore extraction problems with trucks. Consequently,
hoisting improves productivity and moreover, the profit to the mining company.
The following information is important to a thorough analysis in evaluating the force applied to the motor. (Hartman,
1992; Bise, 2003): (1) work layout, (2) shaft or inclined plane, (3) load weight, (4) skip and cage weight, (5) hoist rope
length and weight, (6) shaft depth, (7) drum dimensions, (8) equivalent effective weight, (9) hoisting speed, (10) required
production, (11) components and total cycle time, (12) acceleration and braking.
The present study involves an in-depth literature review, relating equipment sizing and physical and rational mechanics
in order to evaluate the forces and strains that act in a hoisting system; the theoretical study was done by numerical
methods using Mathcad 14. A mathematical analysis considering classical analyses with Excel and Microsoft Word was
used to demonstrate them.


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Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting system





2 55 -CAT






1 Hoisting system in an underground mine

Hoisting system components

A hoisting system has many components and each of them fulfils an important function. The principal components of a
hoisting system are the system mechanism, rope structures, motor, running system, braking system, clutch system, skip
and cage, security devices, and headframe (Hartman, 1992; Dessureault,, 2009). In the design of the hoisting system,
there are essential criteria to be considered: (1) production rate, or material tonnage to be hoisted per unit time; (2) shaft
depth; and (3) number of levels to be accessed (Hartman, 1992). The main system components are the following.
Winch: serves to handle the rope during the hoisting, but there are other types which serve only to let the rope pass
through them. Consequently, winches can be divided into:
Drum hoist: stores the rope on the face of the drum
Friction hoist: passes the rope over the top of the drive wheel but does not store it.
In each category, there are several variations; however when it comes to deeper shafts, a multidrum hoist is required.
This type of system is commonly used in deep mines in South Africa.
Engine: executes and transmits the required force to activate the drum. The engine can be a compressed-air motor or
diesel motor for small systems, and electrical motor for large systems. Whatever the motor type, the connection is by
direct couplings, gears, and belts.
Skip: container that travels inside the shaft and is used to transport the load from shaft bottom to the surface. Once the
skip arrives at the discharge point (upper zone), it automatically activates devices that allow the evacuation of the material.
Cage: metal compartments of one or two decks used to raise and lower people, materials, and other equipment.
Headframe: the basic objective of a headframe installed on the shaft is to support the sheave over which the hoisting
rope passes in order to raise or lower the transport system. The construction of a headframe is also necessary to allow the
discharge of material hoisted above the ground.
Sheave: the sheave is used to guide ropes from the winch drum into the shaft, and therefore must meet certain criteria,
as it interacts with the rope redirecting the force executed by the motor.

Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting system

Rope: wire ropes are mechanical elements used for power transmission between large distances; this type of
transmission is very economical considering the relationship between large distances and high power.
The wire rope is composed basically of a set of steel wires combined into a helical bundle, forming a metal rope resistant
to tensile stress and having a very high flexibility.
The main objective of the wire rope in a hoisting system is to connect the transport vehicle to the hoist. It should be
selected in consideration of safety, compatibility, life, and cost. Safety requirements are higher when people are being
transported or when there is any damage risk, and usually follow rules imposed by international legislation. The life of a
rope is usually determined by the number of trips made, and its durability is affected by the rope construction mode, drum
and sheave size, type of load, environmental conditions, and maintenance.
Rope selection: for rope selection, initially four requirements must be considered: (1) strength, (2) fatigue resistance,
(3) abrasion resistance, and (4) resistance to crushing or distortion. The choice should be made after correctly estimating
the importance of each of the above requirements. Of course, the strength is the main concern.
To evaluate and improve the life of a wire rope, its performance and safety, it is necessary to take into consideration,
as well as dimensional and geometric factors, factors related to the environment, and to respect a predetermined
maintenance programme.
Rope tension
When the rope passes around the drum and the sheave, the outer wires are under tensile stresses while the inner wire
suffers compression. To analyse the induced stress, the principle of the elastic beam (Nash., 1982; Beer et al., 2006) is
adopted and therefore the equations that govern the state of tension in the beam are considered valid for the rope, provided
that they are within the limits of elastic deformation. On the other hand, the forces acting on the rope must be measured
in order to define the appropriate section that can withstand the tensile stresses to which it is subjected.
Re-arranging the Euler-Bernoulli equation relating bending to deformations in a folded cable, one can obtain the

= Eyc R
which evaluates the fatigue produced by folding, where is the induced stress, E is the elasticity module, yc the
distance between the center of the cross-section of the cable to the outer fibres, and R is the radius of curvature, which is
defined by the radius of the sheave or drum.
Considerations for calculating the hoisting cable
Safety factor
According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the code of federal regulations in section 55/56 /
57.19-21 and 75 / 77.1431, the minimum safety factor is the ratio between the permissible resistance (

= adm ) and the

applied resistance (
) and should be equal to: 7 - 0.001L; where L is the length of the cable suspended from the
sheave to the skip, as shown in Figure 1 (Hartman, 1992).
On the other hand, there are standards adopted by each country and in them are specified safety factor values for ore
lifting operational rope (hoisting ore in underground mining), as may be illustrated by the Brazilian standard NBR ISO
2408, which follows international standards.

Table I. Safety factor for some applications (Torres 2009)



Static cord


Cord to pull horizontally




Crane, hoist, excavators


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Rope fleet angle is the angle ( = ) subtended by the hoist rope and the centre line from the idler sheave to the drum,
and this angle should be the least possible ( 2.0 for non-rotary steel ropes and drum surface with groove), to avoid
chafing between the rope sheave contact (Hartman, 1992). A large angle can be a major factor in the breakup of the cable
on the winch, and a small deviation angle makes the cable tangle.
Stresses in a hoisting system
In the process of hoisting, the motor must apply a force F required to lift the material at a certain speed. The force is
transmitted through the rope. The amount of force F should consider the equipment efficiency, as well as forces opposed
to displacement.
In an ore hoisting system, the situation in which there is a greater force required for the motor to move the load should
be analysed. This is considered the most adverse condition, so that the design of the motor power and the components are
in line with the force required. Given this, the critical stage in hoisting material is when the skip is fully loaded (ore or
sterile) an at rest, effective gravity, friction in contacts, rate of production, production requirement. In addition, the force
should meet the security demands set for the rope, permissible speeds in production, and strength increases due to inertia.

Figure 2 Stresses in a hoisting system in an underground mine

Differential analysis of the state of the forces in the sheave

In a sheave that rotates constantly by the rope drive action when a force F2 is applied to it ( F2 F1 ); it is clear that
in addition to the force that produces rotation of the sheave, there are other forces at work in the system, which are
the friction force, normal force, and centrifugal force (Figure 3a).
A differential analysis is presented in Figure 3a, which considers an infinitesimal element for assessing the state of
forces, tensions which act during the displacement. From Figure 3b, Equation [1] Can be derived This equation
models the behaviour of vector forces that govern the stability of the sheave.


Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting system

= e


F2: required force to move the rope (clockwise)
F1: set of forces acting in the opposite direction to the displacement and against the force F2
K: constant dependent on the characteristics of the cable and tangential velocity of the sheave
u: coefficient of friction that exists between the rope-sheave contact
a: angle that corresponds to the the contact surface between rope and sheave.

Figure 3 Stresses in a sheave

Conventional sizing and optimum design of hoisting system (holding)

With the data shown in Table II, sizing will be done via the conventional methods (Hartman, 1992; Burbano et al., 2003)
and nonlinear programming (Betts, 2001).
Conventional method analysis
Table II depicts corresponding information to the hourly production of ore (300 t/h). There are also specified loads that
must be considered when hoisting, such as rope data, winch cycle hours per shift, among others. With the information
provided it is intended to determine the power of the hoist motor, considering the criteria that enforce the NBR ISO 2008
standards. Table III shows the results found for dimensioning of an ore hoist system.


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Table II. Information pertaining to hourly production


Skip weight
Ore weight
acceleration, retardation time
Fixed times
traction resistance (x1000)
Ratio rope /sheave diameter
Rope diameter
Sheave diamater
Sheave diamater
Sheave diamater
Rope linear weight



Table III. Evaluation of winch power (conventional method)

Analysis by nonlinear programming

The power of a winch (double drum friction) will be evaluated as a function of the relationship of force required by the
rope resistant section ( = F a , F is the force request to the motor and, a is the cross section of the rope); on the other hand,
the constraints are productivity functions, tensile strength, friction forces, ore weight, rope weight, effective gravity,
induced force when the cable is bent, safety factor, allowable speeds, etc. The problem in question features a nonlinear
mathematical programming solution, which involves an objective function subject to constraints to be met.
The nonlinear programming (NLP) can be established as follows: evaluate the n-vector: xT =(x1,x2.. ..,xn), to minimize
/ maximize the objective function : F(x), subjected to m restrictions: cL c(x) cU; and within the limits: xL x xU ; x
Rn; where:
xT is the vector having n variables, F(x) the function to be optimized; c(x) corresponds to the restrictions that affect the
solution; the variable x is the permissible values associated with the model of consistency and which decide the solution
space; x Rn are the variable type restrictions (Betts, 2001).
The objective function and / or constraints are nonlinear functions of the design variables, and the schedule is thus
Objective function: As aforementioned, the problem is to find the value of the force required to hoist the ore and the
rope diameter utilized in the operation
Therefore, the ratio between strength and diameter of the rope becomes an implicit objective function, the same
featuring a quotient being a nonlinear function, in which the power value is the largest possible, and the diameter will be
maximum; therefore there is a value for each variable that satisfies conditions to ensure work and the rope resistance. The
objective function is defined by the following equation:

Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting system

Force: is the magnitude of the force required to handle the load
V: denotes the amount of volume to be moved on every trip
v1: is the maximum speed reached when ascending
v2: is the maximum speed to be achieved when descending
d: is the diameter of the rope.
Influence of the friction factor on the amount of force required.
Equation [1] lists the active forces (F1 and F2) on the friction-sheave. The factor of eua in the equation represents the
degree of difficulty that exists when the winch is in the process of lifting the material; so the magnitude of the force
applied to the motor is a function of a force when the skip is loaded and at rest, and the factor eua (u is the coefficient of
friction between the rope and the sheave, and a corresponds to the arc of contact of rope-sheave, see Figure 3); therefore
it can be concluded that the longer the contact section of the rope around the sheave, the force required to raise the ore
will be increased in this ratio, and the greater the friction coefficient the greater the force required to winch.
Influence of effective acceleration of forces acting in the opposite direction to the movement.

The weight of a body at rest is the mass ( M ) multipled by acceleration due to gravity ( g o = 9.81 m s ); to reach a
maximum ascent speed (constant) the winch must deliver an additional force to accelerate the system to a value a;
consequently, all the forces acting in the opposite direction to the movement are affected by a factor of: (g o + a ) g o here
a is the required acceleration to reach velocity v1 or v2.

Influence of induced stress and fatigue on the rope

The rope is constantly subjected to induced stress resulting from bending around the sheave in the hoisting process (see
Figure 3a). The following equation relates the bending moment and bending radius. (Torres, 2009)

I: bending of inertia
R: radius of curvature
M: bending.
Safety factor
The rope safety factor in ore hoisting systems is at least 5. The safety factor relates the allowable stress (
the applied stress ( stress )(Torres, 2009)

= strenght

) and

The target is 300 t/h, therefore the yield is a function of the material tonnage moved on each trip and the time spent in
one cycle.

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Allowed speeds
The speed should not exceed 9.9 m/s.
Consistency restrictions
The values assumed by the variable speed, strength, and rope diameter among others, should be between certain logical
and allowable amounts that are real and coherent solution results e.g. speed. On the other hand there are restrictions in
terms of availability of equipment, e.g. sheave diameter and rope. Similarly, the restrictions must assume values greater
than zero (positive).

7.9528 + 30%
9.81 1000
productivity =
= 300
600 10 9.906 600 10 7.883
+ 40 + 45

2 9.906 7.883
9.906 + 7.883 = 3200 HP
76 9.81 0.88


Power =

v1 = 7.88
v2 = 9.91



diameter = 30mm
F .S . =

9.81 180 10 6
2.384 10 5


Rr = 2.01m

1. The Mathcad output provides lower values in general than those provided by conventional solution. The evaluation
of power by the conventional method provides a value of 3400 HP (Table III), while the optimized solution is 3200
HP, which indicates a value of 6.25% more power over-dimensioned for the calculation using the conventional
2. The winch power is evaluated by the traditional method by the square root of the average power equation, while the
power is measured via the optimization by considering the maximum stress, i.e. if it is considered in the optimization
average powers, the power would be an amount less than the value of 3200 HP
3. The evaluation process using Mathcad allows one to optimize the use of resources; this is due to the fact that there
is simultaneous interaction of all variables , which are inserted in an algorithm. This allows a dynamic evaluation
and consequently the results are limit values or optimum values. In a conventional analysis the solution has a
sequence, the responses are data and information for consecutive assessments, thus one can understand that the
responses have no way to improve the process. This makes for a solution with monotonous processes, usually they
end up being about values over-estimated as noted in the winch problem solution via conventional analysis.


Optimal and conventional sizing of an ore hoisting system


v1e v2; maximum speed going up and going down, respectively;
t; fixed time (7,5seconds);
gc; average specific weight of the hoisting rope;
gm; ore specific weight;

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E; Young`s modulus of the rope;

Ws; skip weight;
V; volume of material to be moved;
L; depth (600m);
Rr; sheave radius.
Betts J.T. 2001. Practical Methods for Optimal Using Non Linear Programming. 1st edn. Society for Industrial and
Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA.
Beer. 2006. Mechanics of Materials. 4th edn. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Bise, C.J. 2003. Mining Engineering Analysis. 2nd edn. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc., Littleton,
Burbano. 2003. Fisica General. 32nd edn. Editorial Tebar S.L., Madrid.
Dessureault, S. 2009. Operations Equipment Technology. Course Notes. University of Arizona Mining and Geological
Hartman, H.L. 1992. SME Mining Engineering Handbook. 2nd edn. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration,
Inc., Littleton, CO.
Nash, W.A. 1982. Resistncia dos Materiais. 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill, So Paulo,Brazil. 521 pp.
Torres. N. 2009.. Seleccion y Dimensionamento de Equipos de Mineria. Colegio de Ingeniros de Minas del Peru, Puno.
198 pp.
The Author

Carlos Enrique Arroyo Ortiz, Professor, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
He holds a degree in Mining Engineering - UFOP (2002) , Master in Mining Engineering - UFOP (2008 ) and PhD in
Geosciences - UFOP (2014). He is currently an adjunct professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais . Has
experience in Mining Engineering with emphasis on geostatistics , Mining Planning, Operations Research , Modeling and