Automated laboratory leader FLSmidth has had its Operate and Maintain (O&M) contract at the Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal on South Africa’s west coast renewed for another three years.
The company has successfully operated the quality control laboratory at Saldanha – Africa’s largest iron ore export facility – for the past eight years, according to Martin Matthysen, Director, SPA (sampling, preparation and analysis), Sub Saharan African and Middle East at FLSmidth.
“An average of approximately 8500 tonnes of iron ore per hour pass by conveyor from the rail head to the ship during loading,” says Matthysen. “Our automated laboratory located above the conveyor must sample and test from this ore stream, delivering accurate and precise data timeously to stakeholders.”
He says the automated system installed by FLSmidth for a leading iron ore producer takes a representative sample of the ore and processes it though the laboratory with minimal human intervention. It is the only laboratory with ISO 17025 accreditation for the iron ore sector, complying with standards ISO 9516 for chemical analysis, ISO 4701 for particle size determination, ISO 3087 for moisture analysis, ISO 11536 for loss of ignition analysis and ISO3082 for sampling.
“Operational quality and stringent standards are vital in this process, as both the seller and the buyer of the ore must be confident that test results on the shipment are accurate and precise,” he says. “The laboratory analyses the material’s chemical composition, particle size, moisture content and loss of ignition levels – as these indicators all impact on the final price of the product.”
The accuracy of results is further checked by participating in a proficiency testing scheme as well as ‘round robin’ analysis – in which samples are verified by laboratories selected by end-customers elsewhere in the country and world.
“We are pleased to have delivered exemplary past performance at Saldanha, in service of our client’s best interests and efficient operation,” he says. “Our ongoing focus on quality has also ensured that we remain compliant with all-important ISO standards in our daily processes.”
He adds that the automated laboratory’s ability to deliver reliable and accurate results as quickly as it does, is also a vital benefit to the client.