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Modified Direct Dissolving of Kernite Ore - Monday, January 6, 2014
Passing through Boron, CA many people wouldn’t notice that it’s home to the largest open pit mine in California, owned by Rio Tinto Minerals, where ARB has been feverishly working away on the MDDK project. ARB has currently been working on several jobs regarding the MDDK project for a combined contract value of $28 million. MDDK stands for "Modified Direct Dissolving of Kernite Ore”. Since the beginning of processing at the Boron Mine, the facility has been utilizing Tinkle ore which was the richest, most abundant ore available at the site as well as being the easiest to process and refine. After almost 90 years of utilizing the Tinkle ore, it became apparent that the supply of Tinkle ore was not unlimited and other borate ores would be needed to fulfill the demand for borate containing products. The next available ore at the mine is Kernite ore. Kernite ore is more difficult to refine, but it can be done by modifying plant processes. This project is designed to expand the mine’s current capacity of processing and add a more efficient way to process the Kernite ore at the Rio Tinto Mine.

Work for the MDDK project began in Bakersfield where the team was awarded a contract to build 20 large sized pipe modules consisting of piping, which was fabricated in the Bakersfield shop, insulation and conduit. Careful planning was required to ship these large oversized pipe modules to Boron, several requiring a CHP escort, where crews were busy erecting bents to support the suspended modules 20’-30’ in the air over existing plant equipment. This was a challenging job to complete as many worried if the pipe racks would assemble together as intended. But through careful planning, the job was completed without a hitch and 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Following this job ARB was awarded the MDDK Mechanical package where the majority of the work for the MDDK project will happen. This package was awarded as a T&M job plus fixed fee, in which ARB is working diligently with Jacobs, whom is acting as an agent for Rio Tinto Minerals. Work contains approximately 25,000 linear feet of pipe to be installed alongside 1,030 tons of structural steel. Crews are also busy setting various types equipment such as a 100’ tall evaporator vessel weighing 150 tons, conveyors, classifiers, PDC buildings and pump modules. One of the highlights from the job are the crane lifts that include setting a pump skid underneath the pipe modules that required the use of a cantilever beam with an 80 ton counter weight at one end and the skid at the other. Along with setting sections of conveyors up to 132’ long and various two crane pick lifts.


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