SAMSON Ship Loading Solutions for Copper Concentrate in Latin America

Karl Woodhouse, Ely/UK, 1. July 2018

SAMSON Materials Handling

Copper products are at the heart of our power, communications and transport networks and a reliable supply of copper is essential to feed our growing demand. Surface deposits of copper bearing ore may only contain a tiny percentage of copper per ton and it requires considerable effort to separate out the valuable mineral from the gangue. Therefore, it is only economically viable to carry out copper mining in geographical areas where large deposits are to be found. Copper ore and derived products make up the largest export segment for Chile and Peru. Copper concentrates are usually exported to smelters in other countries, predominantly Asia. The importance of copper exports in certain Latin American countries means that optimising the ship loading process can lead to significant savings for copper producers.

Considerations for ship loading copper concentrate
Metallic ores such as copper are notoriously difficult to handle as fines being both highly abrasive and heavy and when wet certainly not free flowing. They pose a variety of issues which will need to be addressed when preparing for export.

Eliminating double handling
Repeated handling can cause material degradation and increases the chances of introducing contaminants into the material flow. Material spillage and wastage also increases at multiple transfer points. Solutions that allow for controlled unloading direct from trucks to a Shiploader can be a simple solution to minimise transfer points.

Full manoeuvrability
Multi-purpose berths or berths initially created for other uses may not have the required space and configuration to receive the copper concentrate. Shiploaders with a range of motion allow re-configuration of port areas to maximise loading potential. Some berths can be situated on long thin jetties, which are hard to access with fixed or standard solutions. Shiploaders can be provided with in-line, parallel, radial and crab travel systems.

Radial distributor
Once installed on the quay, the trimming of the ship is best performed using a radial distributor. This makes sure the hold is filled economically and reduces required movement of the Shiploader.

Enclosures and dust extraction
Ports will specify best practise to handle mineral concentrates in order to minimise risk of injury and damage. They are particularly concerned with spillage and contamination. Exporters will commonly have to make sure that sealed systems are used and that dust extraction is in place. In terms of ship loading this may include truck enclosures, sealed conveyors and telescopic chutes with sealed hatches.

When designing an export solution, we must keep in mind:

  1. How will material enter the Shiploader?
  2. What is the best configuration of the Shiploader for this particular port?
  3. How will the material be safely and environmentally discharged to the ship?
  4. What future issues should the exporter consider?

Here are some examples of how companies in Latin America have solved their copper concentrate exporting challenges by SAMSON Materials Handling solutions.

Multiple trucks unloading from a narrow quay

Multiple trucks unloading from a narrow quay (photo SAMSON)

In the Port of Ilo in Peru (1), a long thin jetty is used to load copper concentrate. Access to the jetty is limited yet two trucks are able to unload simultaneously and then drive clear of the area without impeding approaching trucks. This configuration is made up of two 400 tph Stormajors® (truck reception units with an integrated 18 m outloading boom) and an 800 tph SAMSON Shiploader.

Trucks approach the 4.5 m flared entry on a short ramp. The entry is protected by a demountable profiled steel enclosure and there are flexible PVC covers on the outloading boom and transfer point to limit dust. There is also a comprehensive dust filtration system. The equipment is modularised and can be towed clear of the operational area when not required.

Copper concentrate is received direct from trucks and fed to the raised-chassis Shiploader with a 23 m boom. The raised chassis can provide freeboard clearance with a minimal footprint on the quay. Discharge to the vessel is made through a two stage telescopic loading chute with a variable angle system and radial distributor at the end. Being able to direct the loading chute reduces the need to reposition the Shiploader while trimming the vessel. All components of this system are lined with stainless steel to provide greater longevity when handling corrosive products.

The Stormajors® in this example are multi-function. They include a 5.3 x 5.3 m integral hopper with flex-flap entry which means they can also receive copper concentrate via grabs providing an import solution direct to rail cars.

High performance required from an extremely narrow quay

High performance from an extremely narrow quay (photo SAMSON)

This equipment operates from an existing port jetty and receives material direct from 30 ton tipping trucks coming from the Cerro Corona Mine situated in the highest part of the Andes in northern Peru. This quay is just 25m wide but 225 m long.

Gold and copper are mined by conventional open pit mining methods, and the copper-gold flotation concentrate is trucked to the Port of Salaverry (Peru) for shipment to smelters in Japan, Korea and Europe.

This configuration comprises of a Shiploader with an integral Samson® 800 Series Feeder. To minimise space on the quay the Samson® Feeder is fitted on a slew ring which pivots on a 180 degrees arc of the Shiploader’s feed boot. This system is used for vessels up to 25,000 DWT with a maximum freeboard height from the quay of 10.5 m. It has a 36 m boom and discharges at a rate of 900 tph.

To make vessel loading quick and efficient the Shiploader has full powered manoeuvring facilities for both inline and parallel travel along the jetty. The Shiploader boom has powered elevation to vary loading between 15 and 25 degrees. The concentrate is loaded using a variable angle trimming chute with a radial distributor to make best use of every available space in the hold and minimise the need for multiple movements of the Shiploader.

A full enclosure is provided with dust extraction and entry curtains. All transfer points are sealed and flexible covers are fitted to the boom. Stainless steel lining plates are fitted on all material contact points.

Conveying material from storage to narrow quay with effective dust control

Conveying material from stores to vessel on a narrow quay with effective dust control

Copper concentrate does not always arrive at the port for immediate shipment. In this example from Chile, copper concentrate is stored on site. When ships arrive for loading the concentrate travels along a link conveyor to a telescopic conveyor which feeds the Shiploader.

A variety of measures have been applied to control dust. The Shiploader has profiled steel section boom covers and the transfer points are sealed with a flexible enclosure. The Shiploader also benefits from chute linings at material contact points to protect the equipment from the abrasive properties of the copper concentrate.

To travel along the quay the Shiploader can use in-line, parallel, radial and crab travel systems. The Shiploader is mounted on an elevated chassis, enabling it to operate on a narrow quay. Once in position the 36 m boom feeds the vessel from a telescopic trimming chute with 360 degrees radial reach. This Shiploader delivers an output rate of 1,090 tph and is designed to load vessels up to 50,000 DWT.

Configure system with existing conveyors and discharge to vessels up to 60000 DWT

Loading vessels using existing conveyors and discharging to vessels up to 60,000 DWT (photo SAMSON)

In Mexico two mobile raised-chassis Shiploaders have been commissioned to receive copper concentrate and occasionally other ores from client’s mobile feeding conveyors and outloading into vessels up to Panamax size. The raised chassis allows them to feed vessels with a maximum freeboard over quay of 12 m and a beam of 32 m. These Shiploaders are fully mobile and self-propelled. With a 45 m covered boom and 1,000 mm wide belts, these Shiploader have a throughput rate of 1400 tph to load the Panamax vessels.

Mobility and durability were they key drivers for this equipment. These units are powered with in-line, parallel, radial and crab travel and the unit has a hand-held remote control for vessel trimming. Special attention has been given to the feed boot and chute linings at material contact points. The Shiploader boom also has quick release steel cover for ease of maintenance.

Future ship loading considerations
The development of the integrated mobile Shiploader has allowed for direct transfer from truck to ship which eliminates double handling. Using this concept it is possible to export minerals from virtually any suitable berth or jetty eliminating the need for dedicated port facilities or infrastructure. In addition the equipment may be easily moved off the berth between loading operations and stored in the port area which frees up the berth for other operations.

As ore grades are declining in developed copper areas producers will have to ensure that they achieve the best revenue for their products. To do this their process must be as efficient and economical as possible. Mobile Shiploaders allow for rapid set up and can be used in a variety of port and terminal configurations. Mobile shiploaders will provide port operators with a quick return on investment and the flexibility to move the equipment to alternative locations as their operation evolves.

The range of dust containment and reduction on modern Shiploader will help exporters comply with increasing environmental demands.

Mobile Shiploaders provide a truly flexible solution without sacrificing either performance or environmental protection.


If we can help you with any further information, please use the contact form to get in touch.

You will receive an immediate automated acknowledgement, and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

Many thanks