THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY transforms risk rating and downtime duration of mill relining maintenance


Russell Mineral Equipment has released world-first technology that is expected to drastically reduce risk by relocating the mill relining activity from inside the confined space grinding mill environment to the highly accessible, safer area outside the mill.

The semi-automated THUNDERBOLT Hammer guidance and suspension system known as SKYWAY has been in development by RME engineers since 2016, with the world’s first application now being commissioned at First Quantum Minerals Ltd Cobre Panama site.

INSIDEOUT Technology is the name given to a suite of advanced technology processes which complement SKYWAY and facilitate relining to be performed from outside the grinding mill.

“Cobre Panama’s advanced relining technology suite means that ‘the future is now’,” RME’s Managing Director John Russell said during a tour of the Cobre Panama operations in October.

“FQML are leading the world by recognising that by performing relining from outside the mill, they remove the risks for personnel typically surrounded by suspended loads during traditional relining activities. We're working together to create this change and doing something that aims to really shift the dial for both safety and performance.”

“The safety of relining crews around the world has always been RME’s greatest motivator, and INSIDEOUT Technology with THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY also introduces new production efficiencies.”

RME Executive Director Peter Rubie said THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY “represents the fastest and safest method ever devised for the removal of mill liner bolts and worn liners,”

“Following a comprehensive testing regime at RME’s Testing and Training Facility, we’re excited to see the first use of this new system in action over the coming month,” Dr Rubie said of the reline in Panama in November.

THUNDERBOLT SKYWAY is a purpose-built structure external to the grinding mill that supports and positions THUNDERBOLT Recoilless Hammers and operator work platforms.

The SKYWAY system features precise hydraulic control of THUNDERBOLT Recoilless Hammers, allowing for faster movement between bolts and faster alignment, along with increased Hammer preloading compared to conventional methods. 

Relining external to the mill can be achieved independently of SKYWAY investment by using INSIDEOUT Technology and RME has developed a staged INSIDEOUT Technology implementation which allows sites to access reline-by-reline safety uplift.

Safety, engineering excellence and process innovation are key drivers of the Australian-based technology company and manufacturer that employs 453 personnel worldwide, including dedicated OEM Asset Support Technicians and the RME MILL RELINING crews.

For more than three decades RME’s engineers have designed and manufactured mill relining systems that have dramatically reduced grinding mill relining times for mineral concentrator operations around the world and improved personnel safety.

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