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Yokohama unveils global program for conveyor belts

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TOKYO—Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. is aiming to gain a bigger foothold in the natural resources development market with its cold- and impact-resistant conveyor belts.

It has launched a full-scale global marketing program for the belts under the Iceguard AR brand name. The conveyor belt line has won praise for its superior cold and impact resistance, according to a company official.

Iceguard AR has been part of Yokohama Rubber's product lineup for awhile, he said, but because of the belt line's success in some parts of the world, the firm is now taking it global.

The new product launch is part of the company's strategy to meet the growing demand in the natural resources development market, the company said.

Expansion by mining companies into the world's coldest areas, such as the Arctic region, where mining is extremely difficult, is increasing the need for conveyor belts that are able to stand up to harsh conditions, the Tokyo-headquartered firm said.

Because of that, Yokohama Rubber said it has been developing belts with specifications suitable to handle extremely cold conditions.

The Iceguard AR brand was designed for oil sand mining in Canada, and the product stood out, the official said. That led to the global launch of the conveyor belt line.

Negotiations are currently underway with potential users of the belts in cold regions worldwide, and the company anticipates that it will expand sales of the product in the future.

“There is a big demand for conveyor belts all over the world, not only in one specific region,” according to the official.

The oil sands in particular are attracting attention as an alternative source of petroleum fuel.

Yokohama Rubber's conveyor belts are being used at mining sites in Alberta, Canada, where winter temperatures plummet to the -40° to -50°C range, the company noted.

When that happens, the elasticity of the rubber used in the belts is reduced, making them prone to cracking and requiring more frequent maintenance.

To overcome the problem, according to the company, Yokohama Rubber applied its superior rubber compounding technology to develop a conveyor belt with a balance of high cold resistance along with impact resistance.

Yokohama Rubber manufactures its conveyor belts for numerous segments, including coal and iron ore mining. Its products are used at mines in North America, Latin America, Australia and China.

The company said many of the mines are located in harsh environments.

It presently manufactures its cold- and impact-resistant conveyor belts at two plants, one in Japan and the other in China.