Wednesday 20th Nov, 2019

Metso delivers custom crushers for Antarctic construction

Freeze-proof crushing and screen equipment is on its way to Antarctica to help reconstruct the McMurdo research station.

Metso is delivering three Lokotrack crushing and screening plants which will process more than 126,000 cubic metres of aggregates over three years.

The equipment, a Lokotrack LT106 jaw crusher plant, a LT200HP cone crusher and a ST3.8 mobile screen, have been retrofitted to handle the extremely cold conditions and can crush in temperatures as low as -40°C.

Antarctica’s conditions mean the equipment can only be used during the summer, which lasts from October to April, with hard basalt to be crushed from an area near the station.

McMurdo Station is the United States Antarctic Program’s logistics hub and the largest of the three stations the country operates in Antarctica. It is being rebuilt as part of the Antarctic Infrastructure and Modernisation for Science project to make the station logistically and energy efficient.

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The equipment was procured by Leidos, the National Science Foundation’s primary contractor for the Artic Support Contract, from Wagner Equipment, a Metso distributor in the Unites States.

“After a comparison of several equipment manufacturers, Metso and Wagner offered a freeze-proofed crushing solution with the best value,” said Leidos Antarctic Support Contract fleet analyst David DesAutels.

“The equipment, specifically designed for cold conditions, will be maintained by personnel with close proximity in New Zealand.”

The mechanics at Metso’s Technology Centre for track-mounted equipment in Tampere, Finland have developed additional protections for the equipment.

Metso’s Aggregates Equipment Project Manager Marko Salonen said every part sensitive to the cold has been fitted with immersion heaters and extra insulation.

“The selected oils and other fluids are suitable for the Antarctic climate and the specially manufactured conveyor belts run even in extremely cold weather,” Salonen said.

“Alongside the equipment, we also prepared the maintenance and spare parts service in such a way that everything conceivable can be anticipated and serviced independently on site.

“Even the packaging materials were chosen in a way that ensured that nothing unnecessary would be transported to the unique Antarctic environment.”

Leidos intends to operate the machines for two months after they arrive in 2020.

“We aim to work 16 hours a day and produce 250 tons of 63-millimetre crushed stone per hour,” said Leidos Antarctic Support Contract Operations Manager Jeffrey Huffman.

“We also want to include some degree of fines, to gain more compact material for the buildings’ foundations.”

The plants have been shipped from Finland to Germany, where they will then be sent to California to Christchurch, New Zealand, before heading to Antarctica.