Mining Equipment Flown from Durban

25 April 2013

A massive 54 tonne Acid cooler, used in the mining industry to produce sulphuric acid, was flown out of Dube Cargo Terminal on Monday (22 April).

The unit is a special replacement component, manufactured in KwaZulu-Natal for the Vale Nickel mine in New Caledonia, just east of Australia. The mine is currently at a standstill -- losing a million dollars a day -- as its original unit has been non-operational.

The freighter used to transport the acid cooler was a special over sized Antonov AN-124, the world's largest serially manufactured cargo airplane and world's second largest operating cargo aircraft, with a payload of 90 tonnes. It was the first of its kind to land at King Shaka International Airport.

“Previously we have handled auto components for the Toyota Prospecton Plant and large piping used for dredging at Durban seaport. However, this shipment is a significant milestone for Dube TradePort, as the acid cooler unit is the largest single piece of cargo that we have processed through our cargo terminal,” says Ricky Isaac, Manager, Dube Cargo Terminal.

The acid unit was manufactured by Metso ND Engineering, based in Queensburgh, Durban.

Metso ND Engineering's Per Lofstrand said his company was one of a handful in the world with the expertise to build such a large unit.

“Not many organizations have the skills and capacity to build a unit of this size, but fortunately we have not only the skills but the proximity to King Shaka and the new cargo facility developed by Dube TradePort.”

A special frame had to be built to enable the unit to be transported in the aircraft, which could withstand G-forces of up to 2,3 when the plane is in the air and when it lands. The frame was constructed in two days.

“It’s a long and complicated journey to New Caledonia, but we have been fortunate in having access to a world-class airport such as King Shaka, and the Dube TradePort facilities. As a result, the unit is on its way to Vale Nickel and they will soon be able to resume full production.”

“Once this replacement unit is in place, the mine will be fully functional again.”

He added: “This is a significant achievement for Durban business. It shows our client that we are able to produce world-class stainless steel and carbon steel processing equipment. It also shows that Durban is more than a seaport – it is now a fully functioning trade port, which is able to ensure rapid turnaround times.”

“The entire process – including arranging landing permits for the freighter – took less than a week, and the expediters from Austrailia were highly impressed by the efficiency of Dube TradePort and all the companies dealt with here in South Africa,” Lofstrand said.