Port tippler undergoes $6 million major overhaul

A major overhaul of the tippler at Glencore’s Port Operations in Townsville has significantly improved reliability and reduced maintenance costs.

The Port tippler, used to unload mineral concentrate from rail wagons at the Glencore Port Operations concentrate handling facility, has undergone a $6 million overhaul, replacing the outdated equipment with a new Rotaside tippler system.

Mineral concentrate is railed in from Mount Isa to our Port Operations where wagons are unloaded. The Rotaside type tippler lifts and rotates wagons to approximately 140 degrees, emptying concentrate into a hopper that directs the concentrate to a conveyor where it is taken to storage sheds for stockpiling and later loading onto ships.

The original tippler, installed in 1982, had exhausted its design life and was showing its age with signs of fatigue cracking starting to occur. A new tippler, acquired from Metso and fabricated in Turkey, arrived at the Copper Refinery laydown in February 2019 where it was stored while the design and procurement of the new drivetrain were completed.

During this time, a trial assembly of the entire machine was undertaken which proved to be very worthwhile and prevented delays during the rail shutdown period for installation.

In preparation for the tippler replacement, some major works were undertaken including cleaning of the equipment using high pressure water blasting, installation of 60-tonne screw jacks to secure the end frame counterweights and removal of the tippler building roof.

The retired tippler. Removal of the tippler shed roof was required for the new replacement.
The 50-tonne end frame of the new tippler being lowered into place.
The new 182-tonne tippler fully installed.
Replacing the tippler building roof.

Townsville Operations Senior Mechanical Engineer, Justin Remmer, said it was great to have local businesses behind us for the removal and installation of the tippler.

“The new 182-tonne tippler required a 300-tonne crane to carefully manoeuver it into place, piece by piece. Fortunately a local company had just purchased a new hydraulic mobile crane, the largest of its kind in North Queensland, which we hired for the project.”

“To reduce the power requirements to operate the equipment, a massive 75 tonnes of counterweight was added to the machine comprising a mixture of concrete, high flow grout and mill balls,” Justin says.

Townsville Operations Manager, Paul Taylor said the three-week shutdown allowed for full replacement of the tippler mainframe and gear assembly and was successfully completed on time.

“This is a credit to our highly skilled Projects, Maintenance, Operations and Health, Safety, Environment and Community teams who were involved in the upgrade from design to commissioning,” Paul says.

The upgrade will benefit the business by reducing maintenance costs and ensuring reliable rail unloading into the future.