CODELCO, the largest copper producing company in the world has revolutionized mining logistics of its copper concentrate. It has re-engineered bulk handling, using a completely sealed zero material loss system from the mine to the hatch of the ship at Puerto Angamos in Mejillones, Chile.
The traditional method of bulk exporting of copper concentrate uses trucking, warehousing and ship loading conveyor systems, all of which result in small material loss. To complement its operations, Codelco started from the beginning and designed a whole new system that completely encloses the material from the pit to the hatch of the ship.
The new process, engineered with the support of equipment suppliers, encloses the expensive copper concentrate in a sealed container. The equipment, specially designed for the project in cooperation with suppliers uses some innovative new ideas.
The copper concentrate is sealed in a purposely designed box with a lockable lid. Once in place at the mine, the only time the lid is removed is by the lid lifter on the revolving spreader prior to rotation at the bottom of the ships hatch. During the tipping process, the hatch is sealed with the final piece of clever design, with a hatch based dust suppression system catching any rising dust.
The traditional method of bulk export involves multiple transfer points, from truck to train, to warehouse then by conveyor to a bulk loader into the ships hold. At each of these transfer points material is lost. When your commodity is selling for more than 3,000 dollars per ton, the financial loss can add up to millions of dollars.
THE NEW CONTAINERIZED BULK HANDLING PROCESS
Traditional bulk loading requires large amount of investment in engineering, design and construction, implementation and maintenance. Some bulk terminals cost more than 100 million dollars to set up.
The new innovative way CODELCO, in conjunction with Puerto Angamos implemented a way to handle its copper concentrate was through the Containerized Bulk Handling (CBH) system, sealing the material in a container from pit to ship. In the mining industry, this is the first of its kind in the Americas. The copper concentrate is loaded and sealed into special ISO twenty foot containers at the mine; it is then transported to the port’s yard, stored like any other container and then loaded right into the vessel’s hatch with existing terminal equipment. The only new equipment is the purpose designed revolver from RAM Spreaders.
“Codelco wanted to be ahead of the curve environmentally and re-engineered the export process using the CBH system in Puerto Angamos. Our export is the cleanest in the world and we are not losing any of our valuable material “
The CBH process is simple and effective, efficient and most of all, clean and friendly to the environment at a very low cost. The copper is not exposed to the environment, even when it is released at the bottom of the vessel’s hatch by the revolver spreader.
DUST: MONEY BLOWING IN THE WIND
Dust is created when energy is added to dry bulk materials. The CBH process is engineered to prevent energy from impacting the material at all stages of the process. Energy which creates dust can be the wind on a train wagon, the wheels of a tipper truck or a bulk loader dropping material from a great height and displacing air in the ships hold.
Being clever in design, using the CBH process allows lids to seal the container at the mine and is kept sealed during transport and storage. The container is only opened after being lifted at the port before it is rotated into the bottom of the ships hatch. Revolving the container at the bottom of the hatch adds minimal energy and creates minimal dust. The team has added a further environmental protection step, by sealing the ships hatch to stop any escape of fugitive dust emissions by a hatch mounted dust suppression system.
FLEXIBLE, FAST AND LOW CAPITAL COST
Most of the equipment required to successfully implement a containerized bulk handling system already exist at the mine site and port. This includes forklifts, reach stackers and cranes. For ports that do not have their own mobile or ship to shore cranes, the revolver spreader also comes in a lightweight version, so it can be used on ship cranes.
In the case of Puerto Angamos, it has 2 of the most advanced harbour mobile cranes in the port industry. The only major additional equipment required in this operation, is the revolver spreader and the containers. This is a fraction of the investment made in traditional bulk terminals.
The whole solution can be up and running within six to nine months from the time a decision is made. The system has also seen fast load rates with other projects using the revolver spreader for iron ore, loading at 2,000 ton per hour per revolver.