A better bet for pit to port

Container Rotator Solutions has cut downtime for concentrate shipping with its suite of rotatable conveyors for nearly a decade. Australian Mining explores the company’s latest developments.

Rotatable containers are now a well-established materials handling solution at pits and ports across the globe, but this wasn’t always the case.

Sydney-based company Container Rotator Systems (CRS) was among the first wave of companies to double down on the technology with the introduction of its Rotainer system, one of the first devices capable of 360-degree container rotation and automated lid lifting.

CRS will celebrate 10 years since receiving the first inquiries for its rotating container systems in April as the range continues to expand.

In the first quarter of 2019, the company plans to grow its offering with the launch of the Rotainer Eurospec 38 (i.e. 38-tonne capacity) system, designed for handling of coal and scrap metal in the European market.

In the second quarter, the company will introduce the Tiltainer system, which allows for 90-degree end tipping of general-purpose bulk handling shipping containers for top filling and vertical unloading.

Later this year, CRS plans to release a 40-foot full height (2900 millimetre) open-top container for transporting biomass material, wood chips and waste that is compatible with the Rotainer 32 and Rotainer 38 systems.

In mining, the company has serviced companies in countries such as Australia, Russia (with its Coaltainer delivery to the Port of Ust Luga west of Saint Petersburg), Canada, Eritrea and Turkey.

The company’s early mining project with OZ Minerals and Flinders Ports on copper and gold concentrate shipping from the Prominent Hill project in South Australia helped cement its reputation.

“Prominent Hill has been shipping concentrate from Flinders Port for some years now, and that has been quite successful for them,” a CRS spokesperson says.

“From all that time ago it’s led to us sealing a deal in Townsville for Townsville Marine Logistics this year, which is putting on a complete container handling system in Townsville port — it’s quite an exciting project for us.”

Townsville Marine Logistics’ operation involves the handling of zinc concentrate from the nearby Sun Metals’ zinc refinery — currently undergoing a $300 million expansion — and is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2019.

It has been a logistically complex project for CRS’s staff, who were tasked with modifying nearly 1000 generic half-height shipping containers for compatibility with the Rotainer Eurospec 38 system.

“We came up with a solution to minimise capital expenditure by modifying the lock system to cater for automatic lid removal and replacement on the containers. We patented that lock system as it allows up to 10 container lids to be stacked on top of each other — it saves a lot of time and space,” the spokesperson adds.

The adaptations are not new for the team, however. CRS supplied a Rotainer Eurospec 32 (with a fleet of in-house Rotorcon containers) to Rio Tinto Alcon at an aluminium fines operation in Quebec, Canada, for example.

The system included an engine modified with a warming system to withstand the harsh Canadian cold.

CRS also focuses on durability. The company delivered a product to the Port of Ventanas in Chile, the Container Tippler, which has achieved more than 32,000 rotations without a lost time incident since its implementation. Adaptability and durability, the spokesperson says, are key to the company’s success.

“We were looking to put in two container rotators but due to the reliability of our equipment the port decided to take the risk and put one in to reduce their capital costs, which has worked quite well for them,” he says.

The company has implemented a rental service for its Rotainer systems in Australia to deliver overflow services. The Rotainer Rentals service is set up for 1450 millilitres and 1800 millimetres half-height containers, providing Rotainers, reach stackers, container fleets and container spreaders.

This short-term rental solution for the domestic market is designed to meet a growing need for the Australian industry, the spokesperson explains.

“The initial project this was used at was the new Crown Casino in Bangaroo, where it was used to handle contaminated waste from underground digging,” the spokesperson explains. ‘It also caters for city work, tunnels, digging and things like that but is also well suited for mining applications.

“For example, if a mine has a breakdown and needs to hire container handling systems quite quickly we can mobilise at short notice, whereas a port may have a surplus that goes to a different port. That’s what it is set up for, so we can mobilise quickly.”

This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Australian Mining.

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