ABHR speaks to John White, Managing Director of Allied Grain Systems, to learn more about the belts being installed at T-Port’s latest facility.
Building a new deep-water port is expensive, ecologically damaging and often requires a high capital expenditure.
This poses a challenge for bulk exporters looking to increase the amount of product shipped. Larger shipping vessels often have decreased maritime transport costs and can handle significantly more material.
T-Ports, a specialist exporter of bulk commodities, found a solution that allowed it to ship more grain without any expensive, extensive infrastructure upgrade.
The Lucky Bay grain storage and export facility, located on the shores of the Spencer Gulf, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, features 24,000 tonnes of grain storage in steel silos in addition to a nearby bunker storage site that provides 360,000 tonnes of grain storage across 10 bunkers.
A transhipment vessel, named the Lucky Eyre, loads grain from the port to move it onto deep water vessels five nautical miles from the port. The 87-metre self-propelled and self-discharging vessel has the capacity to load up to 13,800 tonnes per day.
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Mark Antushka, General Manager Construction for T-Ports, says this method of transhipment has not previously been used for Australian grain exports and eliminates the need for major jetty structures and other port infrastructure.
“Fully laden, the vessel can operate in relatively shallow conditions,” he says.
“Due to the port being located close to the product, these facilities substantially reduce the road haulage distances, reducing the cost to government for road repairs and maintenance and reducing carbon dioxide emissions considerably.”
The initial project proved immensely successful, to the point where T-Ports awarded Allied Grain Systems a contract to build a second port in the network at Wallaroo on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
Part of this development will see a conveyor installed along a 500-metre-long causeway, from the storage leading to a shiploader for the transhipment vessel.
John White, Managing Director Allied Grain Systems, says the company has designed and is beginning to fabricate the conveyors required for the project.
“We have a design team full of mechanical engineers that take on board the specific requirements of each belt conveyor,” he says.
“The main conveyor needs to be able to start fully loaded and handle up to 1500 tonnes per hour of wheat.
“It’s an overland conveyor, meaning it needs to start from a fully stopped position to allow for the proper cleaning and maintenance procedures.”
The design of the belt has also taken into account the corrosivity of the nearby marine environment. A weather cover made of urethane protects the top of the conveyor, while the belt has been coated with anti-corrosion agents to enhance its longevity.
Allied Grain Systems will provide all of the structural work and has independently tested the belt to ensure it complies with Australian Standards. With proper preventative maintenance, the conveyor is expected to last for around 20 years.
White says collaboration has been key to this project, as multiple contractors are involved.
“Everyone’s got the client’s best interest at heart, and people were quick to adopt video conferencing to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says.
Allied Grain Systems will also deliver two new silos, providing 20,500 tonnes of storage at the port itself. The silos will be fully sealed to allow for fumigation and will be connected to two hoppers with an intake of 500 tonnes per hour each. The belt conveyor across the top of the silos is an enclosed Hi Roller belt conveyor, with dust filters equipped at each transfer point to minimise dust emissions.
The facility is expected to be highly automated, managed through one of Allied Grain Systems’ contractors, Bitwise.
White says Allied Grain Systems provides a total solution for major projects like this, providing pricing, concepts, detailed design, final fabrication and site installation.
“Engineering is the most important thing to us. We wouldn’t be able to do projects like this without our highly skilled team of experts,” he says.
“They’ve coordinated with the designers and other contractors to ensure the shiploading belt conveyor has the correct overhang to load the vessel. They have also coordinated with other companies to ensure the way we’ve designed the trestle supports work well with the causeway foundation.”
Construction of the facility is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, with around 200 jobs expected to be created during this time.