The mineral concentrate loading superstructure at Esperance Port has historically met the environmental license parameters required by DEC to facilitate solid bulk exports. The DEC stipulated new stringent dust and odour emission limits improvements that required a substantial investment in infrastructure to enable the Port to meet these new environmental, occupational health and safety and community standards in handling bulk mineral concentrates and conforming to the terms of its environmental licence.
The ESP Alliance is a partnership between the Esperance Port Authority and Bilfinger Berger Services Australia (BBSA). Its task was to carry out the engineering tasks necessary to meet the conditions defined in the environmental operating licence to export bulk nickel sulphide.
The process of shipping through the port is simple – receive the cargo from trains or trucks into shed storage, maintaining and monitoring the condition of stockpiles in the sheds then out-load to ships as required.
The design constraints surrounding the storage were quite different to what has previously been required. They were to provide a compliant working environment within the shed while still meeting environmental license conditions outside the shed. Specifically the system had to comply with the WA Mine Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, Australian Standard 1668.2-2002 and the port’s DEC operating licence. The combination of these meant tolerances were very tight Added to this there was the extra element of the nickel dust being moist, which meant normal dust control equipment would struggle to perform in the long term.
Funding for the Alliance was approved only three and a half months before the deadline stipulated in the licence leaving a tight window for a solution to be designed, engineered, built and commissioned to control shed atmosphere and emission levels.
At the conclusion of a month long tendering process, two major decisions were made. The first being that Mideco Dust Control Pty Ltd (Mideco) was chosen as the project partner who would design and manufacture the air management system. The second was that Mann and Hummel diesel particulate filter systems (M & H filters) would be purchased and installed on the front end loader (FELs) equipment that operated within the shed.
In delivering this requirement, the port provided the direction and funding, BBSA provided project management, Mideco built and delivered the air handling equipment and BBSA completed the install. Mineworks supplied and installed the diesel particulate filters.
The system would operate as follows:
The M & H Filters would ensure hydrocarbon particulates would not escape the FELs. Mideco 9A Reverse Air filters located at the hoppers in the shed would capture the bulk of the dust being generated. Two fans located in the west end would push fresh air into the shed where another four fans would continue to drive a draught through the shed. At the east end a Mideco 45A Reverse Air Filter would extract an even larger quantity of air creating a negative pressure environment within the shed. The 45A has a heated reverse air bag cleaning system which comfortably manages the moist air stream by continuously driving moisture from the bags.
In the final weeks BBSA brought resources from four states into the project and Mideco built, consolidated and shipped equipment from three.
Mideco achieved practical completion with two days to spare and BBSA powered up the system at 8.00pm on the 31st of August, the day of the deadline. Commissioning tests have shown the system has exceeded design requirements.
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