There are many uses for fabric buildings for mining. From extraction equipment maintenance to bulk storage of product or pre-refined material, and from incoming goods to general storage. We will look at some of these in the gallery and discuss them below.
Using fabric buildings for mining brings a number of substantial benefits.
- They are easy to install with people who have basic handyman/maintenance skills and tickets to work at heights.
- In hot regions they boost productivity as they are up to 15 deg cooler than iron clad buildings.
- In summer heat/winter cold situations a partial end wall can be used at the back and in winter a container used to block out the cool wind.
- With containers double stacked and using high rise fabric structures, trucks can be serviced with the tub-up under cover. The lower containers often serve as oil rooms, lockup tool storage, heavy spare parts and service equipment. The top suits light spare parts such as belts and filters and as a maintenance managers office or team lunch rooms.
- The fabric structures are compact when packed into a stillage for transport. This reduces the cost for the initial delivery and if they have to be moved in the future.
- They can be relocated as the ore body is exhausted closer to the work face saving expensive wasted travel time for maintenance.
- The compact travel configuration in the stillage makes it economical to shift the structure to a new site. This also makes the structure much more saleable due to the compact travel configuration if the mine is exhausted.
Utilising the strengths of fabric structures on mines
The following are some common and not so common uses for fabric buildings for mining.
- Maintenance of haul trucks – This would be one of the main uses for the double stacked shipping containers fabric structures.
- General maintenance facilities – This is also a common use for maintaining smaller vehicles and mining equipment.
- Bulk storage of minerals or processing materials – At Mount Isa Mines we installed a 26m wide x 60m long fabric structure to keep lime dry, plus six 26m x 36m fully enclosed copper concentrate storage bunkers able to store 90,000 tons of copper concentrate.
- Lightning protection – In the Pilbara at FMG’s Cloudbreak mine we installed four structures around the mine so as the trucks could refuel when there was lightning. Normally after 3pm, there was about an 80% chance of lightning, during the storm season. If lightning was detected within 40km, then no trucks could be refuelled in the open for 30 minutes after the last lightning. This was also a problem we quoted lightning protecting fabric structures on a high altitude mine in Peru. Here all personnel had to wait in buses when there was lightning.
- Goods receival depots – In some mines the inwards goods were unloaded in the open then sorted. If there was rain they would be put under cover quickly and several moves later were sorted into the correct areas. By using fabric structures the trucks could unload under cover and the items put in their sorted destinations along the sides of the structure. They could then be distributed as time permitted.
- Mobile fabric structures – We installed two mobile structures in WA for the app 50km bauxite conveyor belt at Boddington Saddleback Mine to increase the productivity of repairs.
- Hard facing large heavy items – For the hard facing of buckets and tubs it increases productivity to have a laydown area where the very heavy items 10-20+ tons are laid out. Then a light 1-2 ton mobile fabric structure can be wheeled over the top of the equipment prior to the work commencing. This requires a series of anchor points to secure the mobile fabric structure, and a yoke to move the structure. The alternative is to hard face in the heat of the direct sun or move the items into the truck servicing bay with a heavy mobile crane, both which lead to a potential substantial loss of productivity.
Transporting to remote regions
The compact transport footprint of the fabric structures makes them ideal for remote locations. David Burston travelled to Senegal to supervise the installation of these structures with a French speaking crew of boilermakers, riggers, crane operators and general hands. The general hands were from Mali with no English or French language skills and had not been exposed to tools made of steel until several years before. David’s skills in charades definitely improved on this trip :).