Air Cannons Reduce Clogging & Downtime at Nickel Mine
Products Used Hurricane Air Cannon
Product Types Used Air Cannon Solutions , Air Cannons
Industry Mining
Customer Eagle Mine


Eagle Mine is the only primary nickel mine in the United States, producing 1.5% of the world’s total nickel production. The company extracts approximately 2,200 st/pd (2,000 mt/pd) from the underground nickel-copper mine using a bench-and-fill stoping process. Clogging issues were affecting an undersized chute in the Humbolt milling process, which would stop the entire crushing process approximately 3-4 times per shift for as long as an hour, blocking input of material all the way back to the ore storage area. The breaks in production and ensuing downtime had an immediate effect on the cost of operation. Manual attempts to control the problem were ineffective, and air lancing consumed excessive amounts of compressed air.

Eagle Mine strives to have the smallest environmental footprint possible.


A low-friction chute liner and vibrators delivered some improvement, but Lead Reliability Technician Ted Lakomowski asked Martin Engineering to examine the issue and offer a safe, effective and affordable solution. Territory Manager Jason Haynes proposed installing air cannons at strategic points throughout the chute, but mine managers had some initial reservations about compressed air consumption, based on their experience with older, inefficient designs. After Haynes detailed the low impact that new air cannon technology has on compressed air systems, Lakomowski advocated for the initial installation of seven 35 Liter (9.25 gallon) Martin® Hurricane Air Cannons.

Strategically positioned at a 30º angle, the Hurricane Air Cannons keep material flowing.


Operating on a regular firing schedule of every 1-10 minutes (adjusted for production volume, time of year and moisture level), the seven cannon configuration reduced clogging issues and downtime. This significantly lowered the risk to operators and reduced the cost of operation. “When I did the cost assessment, I was surprised to discover that there was a 1000 percent savings in using the air cannons over the air lances,” Lakomowski said. “It’s a significantly lower effect on our system than initially predicted, and managers are very happy about that. From a safety aspect alone, this solution has paid for itself,” he concluded.

A single worker can perform maintenance on the outward-facing valves, reducing potential risk.
We Solved Their Problems!
Let us help you solve yours as well. All products and services provided by Martin Engineering carry our Absolutely No Excuses Guarantee. If we don't solve your problem, we will fully refund your money or provide a different solution for you. Period.
Air Cannons - Beverage Production
But excessive silica particle buildup in ductwork caused production to slow down and posed a potential hazard to workers. The silica buildup issue required 10 days for cleanup, forcing them to burn the far more expensive oil during the remediation process.
Read Case Study
Martin® Air Cannons Control Material Flow and Minimize Buildup
After a thorough review of the process, Martin Engineering technicians install a series of air cannons to better control material flow and minimize buildup in a hydrated lime bin at a lead-zinc smelter operation.
Read Case Study
Air Cannons Eliminate Production Bottlenecks at Steel Production Plant
Rainy weather was causing buildup problems at a steel production plant. The material was accumulating on the walls of the hoppers causing a consistent production bottleneck. To knock down the buildup, the plant resorted to hitting the walls with tools. The frequency of the production stoppages were proving to be too costly - with high labor expenses, shortened refractory life and reduced hopper efficiency.
Read Case Study