Imagine a major industrial facility on top of Mt. Blanc. That is about the elevation in the Chilean Andes where MTF had to construct a large scale primary crushing station with a total weight of 1,400t in 2003.
The crushing plant can reduce run-off mine material with lumps of 2m and more, at a rate of 8,500t per hour, to a nominal 300mm size. This allows the material to be transported by conveyor to the processing plant some 8km away and at 600m lower elevation.
The crushing plant is fed by large dump trucks carrying 240t of payload. After crushing the material is fed via an intermediate conveyor with a surge capacity of 16,000t per hour into an 800t storage bin from which the material is than fed at an even capacity onto above mentioned overland conveyor.
The crushing station is of modular construction a so called semi-mobile station. That means it can be relocated to a new location in the future depending on mine progress to keep the haulage distance for the trucks short. The truck haulage being a major cost factor in an open cast mine. The semi mobility of the installation does have nevertheless an important side effect. The final demolition of the facility after the mine has been exploited will cost a fraction of the demolition cost of a concrete station.
In 1997 MTF built a new crushing station of similar size for another copper mine. Part of MTF’s contract was the demolition of the old concrete station which cost US$2.8 million.
Everybody who has skied in high-elevation ski resorts or climbed at altitudes above 3,000m will appreciate what it means to work at 4,700m to 4,800m elevation. Here again the steel versus concrete provided a benefit by significantly reducing the amount of man hours needed for construction. MTF delivered large prefabricated sections to site which reduced the assembly work. To ensure proper fit and minimize expensive correction work on site MTF manufactured 300t of the more complex structure in their own workshop in Lauchhammer.
To minimize the possible health risks each employee who was sent to site had to undergo a medical check. Nonetheless MTF had to move people off site on several occasions with first signs of altitude sickness.
Everybody who went to the site called it an interesting experience but nobody needs it again in a hurry.