The integrated mining, milling, smelting, and refining complex in Northern Manitoba produces 99.99% pure plating grade nickel. The goal of this CAD 4.575 million project was to redesign and rebuild the ore loading station located 4,160 feet underground to reduce maintenance costs and downtime. Phases I and II replaced Hoppers No. 3 and No. 1, respectively. Phase III replaced all remaining parts of the loading pocket. Each phase was carried out during the four-week annual maintenance shutdown.
Vale’s Manitoba Operations produced steel fabrication drawings using Bentley ProStructures software and tools. This allowed fabrication to be completed on-site instead of 750 kilometers away in Winnipeg. The on-site shop mocked up all secondary structures (i.e., hoppers 1 and 3, lower chutes, splitter box, muck shelf and slides, conveyor head, and dust hood) and ensured proper fitment before releasing them for field construction. All new structures were installed without removing existing structures.
Rebuilding the 4160 Level Loading Pocket reduced downtime, which historically totaled six days per year at a cost of CAD 1 million per day in lost production (not including scheduled maintenance shutdowns). In addition, the project was executed at significantly less cost than previous projects. This project could have taken 7,412 hours for 2D drafting and reviews. With Bentley’s 3D modeling software, drafting and reviews took just 2,500 hours, reducing engineering costs by more than CAD 400,000. The total project ROI was less than one year.
Vale used MicroStation, Bentley Navigator, ProSteel, ProStructures, STAAD, and Structural Modeler (Bentley Structural). Using this 3D modeling software, it took less time to produce the required drawings, enabling Vale to do all of the design and drafting in-house. Because the 3D models had logical, dynamic links between connections, revisions were made more quickly, accurately, and on-the-fly. Clash detection and resolution reduced errors, which was critical to the intricate connections.