An ore mining company in Eastern Quebec was seeking to develop it’s resource and export large volumes to China as ore prices were rising sharply. The mine, rail logistics and port terminal facilities were mobilized expeditiously and designed to eventually handle volumes of more than 16 million metric tons per annum, however draft constraints at the dock limited shipping parcels to Panamax vessel size.
In order to obtain optimal freight economics and quickly ramp up capacity from 4 million MT in year one, to over 16 million MT within three years, it was necessary to find a cost-effective and environmentally-acceptable method to fully load Cape size vessels.
Based on the project parameters, the chosen phase 1 solution was to utilize one of CSL’s existing self-unloading vessels. While this solution requires vigilant management and rigorous preventive maintenance, it proved to be a highly successful solution, and a second, much larger self-unloading vessel is now being deployed.
At Sept-Îles, CSL’s Atlantic Superior travels one nautical mile from the load dock to a Capesize vessel at anchor in the bay. The flexibility of the Superior is key to her success, as she essentially acts as an extension of the customer’s draft-restricted shore loading facility to deliver iron ore concentrate around the clock.
The vessel delivers cargo at an average rate of 3,000 tonnes per hour. Her C-loop conveyor belt system lifts the ore from the longitudinal conveyors running below her cargo holds, and deposits it on the conveyor of the deck-mounted discharge boom. The 79-metre boom is positioned over the cargo holds of the Cape, and is maneuvered by a ship officer using a remote control to manage the placement of the cargo during the continuous-flow discharge.
This transhipment operation has proven to be highly adaptable and an efficient link in getting iron ore concentrate into Capes and delivered to Asian markets.