Solutions for the Handling of Bulk Solids in the Supply Chain
Today raw material transport over great distances is a standard procedure in the minerals and metals industries. Industrial minerals are now shipped across the globe in vast volumes demanding efficient logistics to minimise both the cost of transportation and the carbon footprint. Especially under these circumstances, ingenious solutions for the handling of material during storage and transshipping can help save the pivotal dollar.
In past years the location of minerals process plant was generally governed by the availability of ore and fuel and the market for the finished goods. Particularly in the developed economies, driven by the industrial revolution in Europe, iron and steel products were generally produced close to rich mineral deposits particularly of iron ore and coal. The 19th century saw massive changes e.g. in the Ruhr valley in Germany with a transformation from a mainly agricultural tract of land to a vast iron making and coal mining industrial heartland. Cities such as Dortmund, famous today for their huge industrial complexes, in 1800 had populations of only around 4000. By 1850 the mining industry had grown to employ about 12 000 miners producing some 1.5 million tons of coal.
However, during the second half of the century the Ruhr mining companies, and the steel making plants upon which they depended, developed exponentially and by 1910 there were more than 400 000 miners producing some 110 million tons annually of high quality steam and metallurgical quality coal. For both quality and quantity the Ruhr surpassed all others on the European continent. The Schade company was born into this fury of industrialisation and with two major steel producers in Dortmund at the time, the Dortmunder Union and Hoesch plants, feeding from the vast coal mining complexes there was no shortage of demand for engineering services. At the same time Aumund in Berlin were developing hoisting and conveying concepts targeted at the mining and metallurgical industries and licensing these products for manufacture and sale. In 2001 Aumund acquired Schade and the following year also acquired B&W Mechanical Handling of the UK, now known as Samson Materials Handling Ltd., a small company with general experience in materials handling including products applicable to the mining industry and for loading ships.
From the Mine to the Port
The Samson and Schade products are suitable for surface operations and fit well into a modern strip mining concept and together with the products Aumund had developed for the cement industry raw material handling there is a clear synergy in the product programme. This is reinforced with the know-how and product range developed by Samson for ship loading and discharge extending the range of the Aumund Group from the mine to the port and from the port to the processor. The cost of deep mining and the environmental issues surrounding surface mining in highly populated areas forced the European steel plants to look to overseas suppliers for iron ore and coal, making the logistics of moving huge volumes of material a key issue in the development of the market as a whole.
Mobile material feeder feeds overland conveyor in a diamond mine.
So were born the huge ore terminals in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp and other deep water ports where the cargo of Capesize bulk carriers could be discharged and transhipped to small vessels, barges and rail transportation. In parallel to these changes in the Western world further important developments took place in China with its accelerating demand which is effectively controlling the bulk market today. Of course the general minerals market is not just the huge volume areas of iron ore and steam coal but includes dedicated markets for aggregates and specialised minerals such as Gypsum, Bauxite, Olivine, Basalt, Clays, Kaolin, Industrial Sands and much more. Many of these materials are traded in smaller packages suitable for Panamax (65 000 DWT), Handymax (40 000 DWT) down to small bulk carriers and barges of 5000 DWT all of which require loading and discharge facilities.