Engine Replacement Maximises Mining Vessel Uptime

Louise Davis

Since 2002, diamond mining operations in Namibia have taken place in larger volume offshore than onshore, as gemstones washed into the Atlantic Ocean over millions of years are dredged and processed. It’s an expanding market, generating over a hundred million carats annually, so it’s important that mining vessel availability remains high.

So, when as part of routine maintenance operations the Debmar Pacific mining vessel required removal and replacement of two engines, De Beers turned to ALE to ensure a swift and efficient job. As time in port at Cape Town was limited to just a few weeks, several other similar procedures were taking place at the same time, meaning this work had to take place under strict space limitations.

Prior to the lift operation ALE installed two custom-designed gantries on either side of the vessel, parallel with the floor of its engine rooms. These gantries were enlarged at the client’s request, to provide better access to the engines.

Removing & Replacing Two Engines

One by one, each engine was then jacked-up to a height of approximately 1m, using four 60t jacks. A medium skid track measuring 25m was then laid, from a position underneath the engine to the custom-designed gantry at the vessel’s exterior. 

Each 38t GE engine was then skidded the length of this track, where it was uplifted using a 400t crawler crane and set down in a nearby storage area. This procedure was completed in reverse in order to install both 80t Wartsilla engines.

ALE needed to liaise with several onsite authorities and contractors during the project, in particular during the construction of both access gantries. Having executed a large number of vessel upgrade procedures in the past, ALE was well-placed to advise on the lift procedure that would deliver the best value whilst upholding the highest standards of safety.

The Debmar Pacific was built in 1977 and converted into a mining vessel during 1997. It will return to active service mining gemstones 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, once all maintenance operations on it are complete.

Experts in Mining Equipment

As mining facilities are built in increasingly remote locations, operators must be prepared to transport modules at short notice across the most inhospitable of terrains. Once on-site, equipment needs to be brought up-and-running as quickly as possible to maximise its productivity.

Whether it’s relocating heavy mining equipment on existing sites or across continents, ALE allows heavy components to be moved swiftly and efficiently. This activity supports modular construction; as equipment can be manufactured remotely and brought to site.

For existing mines, the firm’s SPMTs, lifting, jacking and skidding capabilities enable it to move fully assembled equipment rather than dismantling it. Its cross-sector experience allows it to assist with on-site construction projects, such as roof lifts, module replacement or the laying of large pipework.

The company can also deliver equipment to site from ports – again transporting items whole and positioning them exactly where they are required. This helps its customers to save valuable set-up time.

The firm’s broad experience in mining equipment transportation and lifting, specialist engineering expertise, seamless logistics service and swift deployment helps its customers to achieve the highest possible output

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