Dump the Ore!

Unit Train Unloading

Dump the Ore!

Fast Unloading of Iron Ore transported by Rail
Unit trains are in common use when it comes to in-land transport of bulk solids over great distances. To keep the pace of transport, fast unloading is of paramount interest. How to afford fast unloading is described in this article.
(ed. WoMaMarcel - 27/7/2015)
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A train is approaching the railcar dumper at an iron ore smelter.

Man has been mining metals and minerals since prehistoric times. The world’s oldest known mine site is located in Swaziland in Africa, where the first mining of metals was recorded via carbon dating as 43 000 BC. Mining of metallic minerals occurred in ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, and metals such as iron ore contributed to the industrial growth of Europe during the middle ages. Iron is the fourth most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust, at about five percent, and it also represents 95 percent of all metal used in any given year.

Interestingly, the gold rush of 1849 also drove the need for iron ore, and areas like the Mesabi Range in Minnesota were accidentally discovered while miners were searching for gold. These early days saw miners use shovels and pickaxes to take the ore out of the rock. Horses and mules hauled the ore out of the mine, and steam shovels and engine-powered tools were only later used. Prior to the development of the Bessemer converter for processing of iron ore, steel was a very expensive commodity. When the process was first introduced in the United States, production skyrocketed and a massive supply network was created to deliver raw materials to the processing plants.

Aggressive Transporting of Iron Ore

Aggressive transporting of iron ore by rail began in the 1880s. The ore was shipped through the Great Lakes to ports in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo and then shipped by rail to a network of steel mills around the country. This combination of barges moving ore from Minnesota through the Great Lakes and trains moving coal from Pennsylvania drove the industrial revolution in the United States and provided all the steel used during World War I and World War II. The amount of ore and coal being moved required a huge volume of heavy duty equipment for unloading and transporting the minerals.

Iron ore prices were decided by miners and steelmakers, and the first deal reached became a benchmark for others in the industry. In recent years, this system was replaced with a market-based pricing system. Most of the mines in Minnesota have now closed, but there is still a significant amount of iron ore being transported worldwide. In Australia alone, there are 35 billion tonnes of iron ore.

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