Record Rotabox rate adds to NSS offer

NSS is well positioned to support the emerging critical minerals industry.

Critical minerals include those used in boutique and strategic applications including renewable energy generators, communications and semi-conductors.

The Townsville-based facility has an established service catering for bulk ore in the form of Rota (Rotator) Box applications which handle half-height and three-quarter height containers.

MMG uses containers almost exclusively at the Dugald River operation located 65kms north of Cloncurry.

The versatility of the system was proven during the last wet season when NSS’ triple road trains were able to continue a service to the coast after flooding cut the Great Northern Rail Line.

Cash flow, the lifeline of business, continued.

The process had been developed to the point where NSS was now considered to offer the highest Rota Box productivity rate in the country said Logistics Manager David Vass.

“That’s an average 20 containers an hour you’re loading generally, which are around 24.9 ton (each), Mr Vass said. 

“They (half-heights) run on your lead trailer on the front of the truck over your drive tires and then on your two rear trailers we run triples, run the three-quarter heights, which are a bit heavier. So, depending what we’re loading at the time, we can do upwards of 20 containers an hour.

“We’ve run cranes at the same time. We are loading, I think 1,100 or 1,200 tons an hour at one stage there we had two cranes going, which is more than the actual ship-loaders.

“Obviously it’s more labour and machinery, but we can sort of ramp-up to load vessels quicker if we need to running two cranes, (and) two rotor boxes.”

“So the good thing about half heights and rotor boxes, is they are mobile, (and) we can do it on various berths,” he said. “It’s a lot less costs to get running.”

Rota Boxes are attached to a shore crane with picks up containers then lifts and takes them into the hold of a ship and rotates the container 180 degrees to unload.

They’re used where ship loaders, which are a conveyor system, are unavailable or the second choice for reasons including dust control said Mr Vass.

The Rota Box system aligned with the production of smaller volume, higher value resources like critical minerals being developed in North West Queensland he said.

“Due to our environmental procedure, we also have to run a high-pressure mist spray around the top of the hatch. So when we’re actually tipping, we turn the sprays on, it puts a fine mist and it captures the fine dust particles where the ship load is. 

“We can operate in any wind condition. For instance, (the ship-loader) out on Berth 11, I think as soon as they get over certain wind levels they have to stop loading. They (ship-loaders) have a lot of delays when it’s windy where we don’t have that sort of issue on our system.”

Among others, NSS handles bulk mineral concentrate, copper-lead bullion from Mount Isa as well as copper cathode from Copper Refineries Limited via Mount Isa. It is one of the largest live cattle export ports in the country. 

NSS also has one of the most diverse import schedules including military equipment, motor vehicles and mining units and other break bulk products include steel. 

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