Iluka Resources Ltd
Eucla Basin, South Australia
Iluka’s Jacinth-Ambrosia Mine (JA) is the world’s largest zircon mine, with an annual production capacity of approximately 300 thousand tonnes of Zircon. The JA mining operation is located in the Eucla Basin, 800 kilometres from Adelaide, South Australia, and 270 kilometres from the Port of Thevenard near the township of Ceduna.
Zircon is used in manufacturing ceramics, including floor, wall tiles and sanitary ware, as well as in casting and foundry applications. Zircon is also used to manufacture zirconium chemicals with various derivative applications, including zirconium metal.
Jacinth-Ambrosia Mining Method
The mineral sands in JA are mined in an open pit by dozer push, with simultaneous rehabilitation as the mine advances. The semi-circular mining blocks have radios of 145m.
A semi-mobile mining unit plant (MUP) with a feed capacity of 1,400 tonnes per hour is positioned in front of the block that is going to be mined at the mid-point of the block’s semi-circle diameter, and dozers push the mineral sands to feed it.
When the block being mined is completed, the MUP moves to the next block, following a sequence defined in the mining plan. The MUP is moved approximately every six weeks.
To facilitate the movement to the next mining block, the MUP is equipped with crawler tracks that are lowered when the MUP is in transport mode and then raised while in mining operation.
During operation, as the bulldozers push minerals sands towards the MUP, large deposits of materials would surround the raised tracks. This material must be removed entirely from the track system, especially underneath the tracks, to move the MUP to the next mining block. The surface under the tracks must be clean from sand and debris and level for the transit of the semi-mobile mining unit.
Removing the sand and saline mud slurry from around the MUP’s crawler track system was typically long and manually laborious.
Inflatable void former provides the solution
Giant Inflatables Industrial (GII) was charged with designing and fabricating an inflatable void forrmer to be placed and inflated under the crawler track while the MUP was operating to block the ingress of sand and dirt.
Special attention would have to be taken when designing the enhanced inflated void filler, given the extended exposure to direct sunlight and the corrosive effects of saline slurry.
The GII engineering team designed and fabricated the superior inflatable void former by combining a significantly robust inflatable bladder with a rugged, ultra-violet-resistant protective skin that could be inexpensively replaced when required.
The inflatable void filler has substantially reduced the ongoing labour and operational costs of the MUP while extending the life of the crawling track system by reducing its exposure to dirt and contaminants.
A closer look
in industrial inflatables
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