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Mineral Sands Mining in India

Source: Mud Cat™ Division of Ellicott® International

Ellicott Standard Series 370 'Dragon'
Ellicott® Standard Series 370 "Dragon®"

In 1994, a producer of mineral sands in India was having production difficulties at its processing plant with a dredge used for raw material acquisition. Its European-manufactured dredge with a 14" x 12" (356mm x 305mm) pump was not meeting the processing plant's production needs. The plant's target annual production is 200,000 tons per year of ilmenite from 1.8mm tons of ore. The plant's employees were facing a potential layoff due to lack of product.

Consequently, the mineral sands producer awarded an excavation contract to a local dredge contractor to increase production. The dredge contractor immediately contacted the Mud Cat™ Division of Ellicott® International, the world's oldest and largest manufacturer of cutter suction dredges. The chief executive of the contracting company traveled to Baltimore, USA, to review dredging requirements with Ellicott®, having first-hand knowledge of Ellicott®'s experience and quality in designing and building dredges.

The contractor and Ellicott® jointly determined that the standard Ellicott® Series 370 "Dragon®" dredge was the most economical way to save the project. The Series 370 is powered by a single Caterpillar diesel engine rated at 360HP and can excavate to 6 meters below the surface. Ellicott® builds the Series 370 for inventory and had a new unit plus spares on a vessel headed to Bombay within 6 days of receiving the order. The dredge and spares were transported on two trucks from the Port of Bombay to the site. Under the supervision of an Ellicott® field service engineer, the contractor installed the Series 370 with two cranes in the same pit where the older dredge was operating. The Series 370 dredge was in full operation within hours of arriving at the site with fantastic results. The Series 370 has a 12" x 10" (305mm x 254mm) pump, smaller than the unit it was replacing. Nevertheless, according to the chief executive, in 2 days of operation the Series 370 produced more sand than the other larger unit produced in 3 months!

The Series 370 is currently pumping medium to coarse sand approximately 300 meters to a sand processing plant. The sand is separated into two types of sand, red and black, and five minerals are extracted in the process. The finished product is sold in India and overseas. The product is utilized in the building trades and the manufacture of glass. This is the first use of a Mud Cat™ dredge in a mineral sands mine.

Mud Cat™'s affiliated Major Projects Division of Ellicott® is already the world leader in supplying large dredges, i.e. up to 24" pipe size and 5000HP, to the mineral sands industry as primary excavation tools. Ellicott® customers include the world's leading mining companies in this commodity such as DuPontKerr-McGeeRGC Mineral Sands, and SCM Chemicals.

Ellicott® has supplied dredges to India since 1961 to both the public and private sectors. Over 50 Series 370 "Dragon®" dredges are currently in operation worldwide in over a dozen countries.

Reprinted from Mud Cat™ Division of Ellicott® International

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