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Barloworld Handling go underground at Minosus

In August 2005 Minosus Limited began their hazardous waste underground permanent storage operation 500 feet down within a worked out area of the rock salt mine in Middlewich, Cheshire that was opened in 1844. To enable them to carry out this operation efficiently they required reliable materials handling equipment both on the surface and in the mine itself. “We selected Barloworld Handling to provide all our materials handling needs as they were able to offer us a total 'one-stop' solution that met all our requirements”, comments Paul Campbell, Operations Manager.

Minosus is a 50/50 joint venture set up between Compass Minerals UK, who own and operate the mine, and waste management specialists Onyx. It was formed in 1997 in anticipation of the introduction of Landfill Directive which would ban the co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes and result in the need for a new generation of hazardous waste only landfill sites. After a lengthy planning application process Minosus were able to go live in August 2005.

Before waste can be handled samples have to be sent to Minosus to ensure that they are acceptable and once they are and the waste producer wishes to proceed a schedule of dates and delivery times is drawn up. The waste is then delivered in either intermediate bulk containers (big bags) or in steel or plastic drums both on pallets. Three Hyster H4.00XMS-6, 4000kg capacity diesel powered counterbalance lift trucks then unload the waste within an enclosed reception building and a sample taken and tested in the laboratory. Once approved the waste is then loaded into transit capsules that can hold up to six big bags, each weighing up to 1500kg, by the three H4.00XMS-6 lift trucks. These capsules are then taken by conveyor system to the lift cage and sent 500 feet down into the mine.

On arrival at the bottom of the shaft the capsules are removed from the cage by a conveyor system and then loaded onto a trailer by a Hyster H15.00XM-12, 15000kg capacity diesel powered counterbalance lift truck. There are four trailers that were made to a specification set down by Minosus and supplied by Barloworld Handling, each capable of taking two full capsules. Up to three trailers can then be taken by a New Holland Tractor unit, also supplied by Barloworld Handling, a distance of 2.5km to the disposal area.

The disposal area is divided into a number of 'rooms' so that different categories of waste can be segregated. In the relevant room the transit capsules are opened, whilst remaining on the trailer, and the contents removed by either an H4.00XMS-6 or by a T40140 Bobcat Telehandler again supplied by Barloworld Handling. The Telehandler then places the waste containers in their final disposal position and the capsules, along with the pallets, are returned to the surface for the cycle to begin again.

The underground disposal area has a capacity of two million cubic metres and the operation is geared up to accept 100,000 tonnes of waste a year. To ensure that the operation runs as smoothly as possible each unit from Barloworld Handling has an all-in maintenance package. The ability of the Barloworld Handling engineers was shown as each truck that was working underground had to be dismantled before it was sent down in the lift cage and then rebuilt in the mine.

On the trucks and Barloworld Handling Paul Campbell adds, “The trucks we have working here are very comfortable with excellent visibility making them easy to operate. We have also been very impressed with the way that Barloworld were able to provide a solution to all our operating requirements and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with them.”

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