New warehouse concept could benefit offshore mining

June 17, 2014

As interest in offshore mining continues to increase, there is research being done at the the Australian Maritime College, a specialist institute of the University of Tasmania, that could help save billions of dollars in port infrastructure, dredging and transhipping costs.

Traditional transhipment involves an export vessel, such as a Capesize bulk carrier, mooring as close to the mining operation as its draught allows and being loaded by smaller feeder vessels. This project looks at using a floating harbor transhipper (FHT) that acts as an ‘offshore warehouse’ to meet the growing demands for coastal transhipment in the mining sector and commercial port operations, the University said in a press release.

PhD candidates Nick Johnson and Lauchlan Clarke are working with industry partner Sea Transport Corporation (STC) to refine and test the FHT concept, which is the first of its kind in the world. The three-year project has received a $420,000 Linkage grant from the Australian Research Council and STC.

The FHT, estimated to be worth around US$90 million, is approximately 315-metres long and features an enclosed conveyor system to facilitate the transfer of the bulk product from the feeder vessel into its own stockpile, and from this stockpile to the export vessel. Using an enclosed conveyor system eliminates spillage and allows for dust-free transhipment, reducing impact on the surrounding environment and any nearby residential areas.

The FHT system aims to significantly reduce transhipment delays caused by inclement weather by greatly reducing the relative motions between the FHT and the feeder vessel. This is achieved by mooring the feeder vessel inside a well dock at the aft end of the FHT, rather than the side-by-side method used in traditional transhipping.

Read the full release here

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