Weighing over 400 tons and billed as the largest piece of steel ‘ structure to ever enter and be installed in Liberia, the shiploader will docked last Friday, at the ArcelorMittal Liberia Buchanan iron ore port.
When installed the machine will be the final piece of equipment used in the loading of ships transporting Liberian ore to the open market.
Arrived fully assembled in a specialized ship that deals with this type of equipment around the world, the ship loader will be installed directly onto temporary rails at the iron ore quay and stored in a safe manner until such time as required.
The ship loader arrives in preparation for Phase 2 of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Liberia operations and is capable of loading 15 million tons per annum once full production has been reached, tripling the company’s current loading capacity.
According to ArcelorMittal Liberia management, the ship loader is here to meet the demands and vision of ArcelorMittal Liberia. “The volume of material to be mined has necessitated the requirements of the shiploader, as we are at capacity at present with the current machinery available,” said CEO, Antonio Carlos Maria.
The process for the operation of the shiploader is the final step in the ore’s journey from the mine to the oceangoing vessels. Ore from the mine concentrator is shipped by train to the port, where it is offloaded using the railcar tippler.
From here the product is moved via conveyors through transfer towers onto another conveyor which feeds the stockpile stacker, from where it is reclaimed using the re-claimer, which feeds onto a conveyor that feeds the port. The ore then enters the port silo or buffer that feeds onto vibrating feed conveyors and then onto a tripper conveyor which feeds the shiploader, which in turn feeds into the ship holds.
According to Projects Port Manager Brendon Baines, the preparation for the arrival of the ship loader has been immense. “The ship has the main offloading cranes. However, ArcelorMittal Liberia has had to prepare haul roads for oversized equipment to be offloaded at the same time. We have specialized hydraulic trailers, cranes ranging from 30 to 250 tons, ten low bed trucks and trailers, and of course manpower,” he said.
The manpower required to maintain and operate the ship loader is another part of the preparation for Phase 2 of the company’s Liberia operations. Baines said that one of the reasons for setting up the Vocational Training Center (VTC) is to train artisans up to world class standard to enable repair work to be undertaken.
ArcelorMittal Liberia will also have a contract in place with the supplier to ensure quality and workmanship is done correctly, all part of the training program at the VTC. Although the sophisticated machine would only require on operator, the company has a training program set up, and various people will be interviewed and trained by the supplier.