The Climax Mine in Climax, Colorado, United States is one of the oldest mines in the U.S. For many years, the mine was the largest molybdenum mine in the world and produced 75% of the world’s supply of the metal, which is commonly used in steel and other metal alloys to increase strength and durability.
After the Climax Mine’s first shipment in 1915, the mine was shut down and re-opened a few times. In 2012, the mine reopened again after a 17-year shutdown. To get the Climax mine ready for re-opening, the owners started a major reconstruction project to build state-of-the-art mining facilities. As part of the project, Chamco was tasked with supplying a large pump system to work in conjunction with an upgraded water treatment facility on the mine tailings pond.
Chamco was responsible for all aspects of this unique project, from design to on-site start-up of the pump system. The Climax Mine Project presented 3 key challenges: system, size, location.
The fluctuating water levels of the tailings pond meant that any shore based pump solution would require frequent and costly pump relocations, and result in increased maintenance costs and lower reliability.
All Chamco’s engineered systems are manufactured in our Calgary production facility and shipped to remote sites around the world, which in this case was a mine site high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Chamco’s engineers had to thread a fine balance of manufacturing and assembling as much of the barge components and subsystems as possible to facilitate ease of install and start-up while still meeting shipping limitations.
Once the system arrived on the mine site, it would have to traverse a small, winding mountain road before they could be assembled and installed. In addition, the Climax Mine is located at an elevation of 11,360 ft. (3465m), which made altitude sickness a challenge for all workers on-site.
The Climax Mine pump system installation presented many engineering, logistical, environmental and site-specific challenges for Chamco. We successfully overcame each one of them and proudly delivered a unique installation to meet our client’s requirements.
It was determined early on in the project that a Chamco floating pump system would provide the lowest operational cost with the highest reliability, as it would float on the pond itself allowing it to rise and fall with the changing water levels.
Modular Hull Design
For each of the 2 barge hulls, 3 submodular sections were built, weighing about 80,000 lbs and measuring 74ft. long X 12ft wide X 14ft. high. Using highly sophisticated heavy haul equipment and some detailed planning, the modules arrived safely and on-time at the Climax mine site.
On-Site Logistical Troubleshooting
To successfully transport the floating pump system modules to the mine tailings pond for assembly and launch, parts of the mine road had to be reconstructed to increase the turn radius. For on-site transportation, rear-steering trailers were used to maneuver the tight bends in the road.
Unique Walkway & Shore Pipe Design
In order to keep supporting continuous mine operation and minimize relocation of the floating pump system, Chamco designed the longest single-span walkway and shore pipe in our history for this project.
The 120 ft walkway weighed over 50,000 lbs and was constructed of a steel size that could stand up to the demanding conditions on-site. It was supported on one end by the barge itself and on the other end by a barge skid. To shelter personnel accessing the pump station from harsh mountain weather conditions, the walkway was designed as a fully enclosed walkway with roof and walls.
Similar to the walkway, the weight of the 120 ft shore pipe including the water inside had to cover the distance from the barge to shore in a single span. To ensure design integrity, Chamco constructed a custom-designed supporting structure for the shore pipe.
Both pump systems were successfully started in 2012 and have been a reliable asset for the Climax Mine ever since!