A world-first South Australian-developed innovation to load containerized iron ore from a land base to an offshore vessel has been successfully trialled off the Adelaide coast. IronClad Mining’s new ‘multi-user’ system has the unique flexibility to be used for transhipment of bulk commodities other than iron ore, such as grain.

The company says the system has the potential to revolutionize the way in which bulk commodities are loaded onto vessel for export across the world.

IronClad’s chief executive officer Robert Mencel says, “We are not aware of anywhere else in the world where this same system is in operation. IronClad has had to think outside the square to successfully develop this system.

“Many of the individual technologies are in common use in operations all over the world. What we have done is combine them into one seamless operation by making specific adjustments to ensure they work effectively in an off-shore environment,” he says.

IronClad says the system is a flexible, low-capital, cost-effective export solution for a range of commodities. “You don’t have to build deep sea ports worth hundreds of millions of dollars to export your commodities to market,” says Robert Mencel.

IronClad will use the system to transport low-cost, high value direct shipping ore (DSO) from its Wilcherry Hill Iron Ore Project near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula to a vessel positioned almost 7 nautical miles off Lucky Bay in the Spencer Gulf.

The DSO will start its journey on the road from the mine site to a stockpile storage facility near Lucky Bay where it will be loaded into air tight containers and tractor transported to the portside hardstand before being loaded by crane onto dumb barges.

Tugs will take the barges out to sea where a barge-mounted crane will be moored and the floating crane will then load the ore from the containers into the vessels anchored alongside. The containers are then lifted from the barge with custom-made ‘rotainers’ fitted to the crane, lowered into the ship’s hold and tipped upside down to empty the contents. A dust suppression system will help to keep emissions minimized.

This successful trial comes as the South Australian government approved amendments to IronClad’s existing port approvals in a bid to reduce costs.

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