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Bass Point Quarry commissioned a stationary Fisher air separtor in late 2011 that has been incorporated into the stream of the main fixed plant.
Bass Point Quarry commissioned a stationary Fisher air separtor in late 2011 that has been incorporated into the stream of the main fixed plant.
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Air separator impresses at Bass Point Quarry

A desire to reduce costs and save energy motivated a quarry business to reconsider its sand processing operation. Damian Christie spoke to Steve Butcher at Hanson’s Bass Point Quarry.
The air separator has a variety of possible uses with gravel, limestone, granite, trap rick and cement sand
The air separator has a variety of possible uses with gravel, limestone, granite, trap rick and cement sand

Hanson is a multinational company that employs around 60,000 people worldwide and produces aggregates, premixed concrete and a host of related products. Like many of his colleagues in Hanson, Steve Butcher, the quarry manager at the Bass Point Quarry in Shellharbour, New South Wales, has been looking at ways to do things smarter, not just better. Smarter has led Butcher and his colleague Daryl Kimmins to look at how the quarry deals with its fines.

“We’re making manufactured sand from our basalt fines. We’re producing it through our plant at 90 tonnes per hour of a minus 3.25mm product,” said Butcher.

“And then the air separator is obviously separating out the portion of the minus 75 micron as well. We’re probably producing five to 10 tonnes per hour of that product, depending on the split we require.”

WASHING VS AIR SEPARATION
For years washing was the way the industry produced its fines and manufactured sands but there are a lot of downsides. With water in short supply, as well as pricey, along with managing power and fuel costs, quarry managers have had to revisit the system they employ.

“One of the disadvantages of the old system is that pumps are very high power consumers. The tailings pumps and the sand pump on the wash plant itself consumed a large slice of the site’s total energy consumption,” said Butcher.

He also found that there was a lot of wear in pipes because of the abrasive nature of pumping the product through them. This meant the pipes were moved around to even out wear and were also replaced regularly, adding labour costs to material costs. In addition to that the quarry had to set aside a large area on-site for the tailings dam.

“We were taking up a fair chunk of the quarry with tailings dams while trying to settle out the fine component of the product. And the maintenance of those dams requires maintenance as well; they needed to be cleaned out every so often. That would require getting a dragline in or a long reach excavator,” explained Butcher. “Fuel burn and labour were the other two things that were a disadvantage.”

IMPRESSIVE TONNAGE, POWER SAVINGS
Altogether it was a cumbersome operation that needed review, and that is where Daryl Kimmins comes to the fore, as he was the one charged with finding a better solution. Kimmins had seen a Fisher air separator operating at Southern Quarries in Adelaide and Butcher knew that Hanson had one operating in one of its plants in Malaysia.

So Bass Point Quarry commissioned a stationary Fisher air separator in late 2011 that has been incorporated into the stream of the main fixed plant. The separator could be moved around the site but Butcher says that is unlikely to happen.

“We’ve set it up in a fixed application but some day down the track, should we want to make it mobile or move it to another plant, it wouldn’t be that big a job,” he said. “It’s our intention to keep it in one spot. It has eliminated the need to feed it with loaders, it’s basically being fed directly from our plant.”

While the air separator has a variety of possible uses with gravel, limestone, granite and trap rock, its primary function for Bass Point is producing manufactured sand, which is used in Hanson’s concrete operations.

There is the possibility of using it in asphalt products and the fines component could be used for agricultural purposes. Butcher is looking at whether it may have applications as asphalt fillers or fly ash replacement for concrete or asphalt.

In strictly production terms, Butcher expects that the new air separator has the ability to produce up to 150 tonnes per hour but he is quite content to produce 90 tonnes per hour with a minus 3.25mm feed.

“We don’t have any intention of doing anything other than that at the moment,” he said. “We’re basically trying to remove a portion of the minus 75um (micron). Our process fines come off the plant with a percentage passing of 75um, of up around 20 per cent and we aim to reduce that down to about 10 per cent. So we’re basically removing that 10 per cent of super fines out of the product.”

Lots of things about the Fisher air separator continue to impress Butcher, who is a seasoned quarry manager, not the least of which was that the machine worked from the first time they hit the switch.

There wasn’t much to do in the way of fine-tuning the machine, which means less time wasted on things that are non-productive. Within the first hours of operation the air separator was churning out specification grades of fines.

“The things that impress us now are the energy savings, the fuel savings, and the labour savings. All those things are the reasons we put it in,” he said. “The advantages are in the savings and they are looking quite significant.”

The Fisher air separator is being distributed in Australia by Global Crushers & Spares.

Interview by Damian Christie. Text by Mandy Parry-Jones.

Hanson
Hanson's process fines come off the Fisher air separtor with a percentage passing of 75um.









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Thursday, 17 October, 2019 4:16am
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