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Creative solutions lead to maintenance savings for mine facility

Site Agent, Nigel Tindle is working at ICL Boulby Mine  with ICL Production Manager (Infrastructure), Craig Lawton. Together they’ve been specially acknowledged by ICL for their contribution on a recent project.

Nigel and Craig have been liaising closely to successfully design, install and commission a new main mine ore bin cone following the catastrophic failure of one of the two current bins both of which are in excess of 50-years old.

The project included removing the old cone from a 1,000 tonnes vertical bunker as well as designing and installing the new one, the whole scheme took around one year to complete and that was with a three-month stand down for Covid-19.  

A broken steel cone inside the mine
The failed cone

While the new bin cone was being designed specifically to deal with the polyhalite being mined, the old cones were designed for potash, but polyhalite is substantially denser therefore heavier. We started to remove the old cone by planning and building a bespoke working platform in the bunker, this allowed safe access to strip down the old cone and remove it in manageable pieces. During this time the new design had been manufactured offsite and was ready for installation.

The new bin cone was built in pieces, bottom up in-situ in the bunker using the access platform from before. A rod box base section, four each, bottom and intermediate sections with eight upper sections, all lined up and bolted together and suspended from the existing ring beam. Customised liners were added inside to protect against wear and tear.

The installation took around 2,000 bolts with the largest upper sections weighing approximately 1.6 tonnes and nearing 2.8 by 2.8 metres in size.

Inside the mine showing the team of operatives setting up the removal of the broken cone
Removing the old cone

Nigel and Craig were nominated for the project using innovations such as the new steel lining plates and construction technologies and for using industry knowledge and creative thinking in the design and installation of the new ore bin. Not only that but the new cone bin was designed and installed while maintaining production with the one remaining bin.

The recognition letter sent to Nigel from ICL Boulby Mine, General Manager, Andrew Fulton, said: ‘This is a significant achievement, the creative thinking and ingenuity you have shown means that the new design will add extra life to the bin and reduce maintenance costs going forward for many years to come.

‘Thank you for the contribution you have made so far and keep up the good work.’

Well done to Nigel and Craig, their teams and supply partners for their ongoing commitment and dedication and for delivering such a fantastic service to our client.

Thank you for the contribution you have made so far and keep up the good work

ICL Boulby Mine, General Manager, Andrew Fulton

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