Fuel leaks from heavy mining equipment are common due to the harsh nature of mining conditions, and the response plans to mitigate any environmental damage are heavily documented and implemented across sites in Australia.
However, when it comes to some machinery components such as fuel tanks, how are operators and maintenance personnel able to predict the likelihood of a fuel leak occurring during operation?
Many sites may not see this as an issue and will continue operation until the need of repair or replacement is critical, but this can result in unscheduled downtime and even some harsh infringements.
Illegal dumping is the unauthorised discharging or abandonment of waste and is an offence under Section 49A of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. On conviction, the offence carries a maximum fine of $125,000 for corporations and $62,500 for individuals. It is also an offence to fail to report discharges of waste likely to cause pollution or environmental harm to this department (source).
Mining spills can contaminate public waterways, cause blockages in drainage systems, and disrupt the growth and reproduction of aquatic plants and marine life. In the span of 10 minutes, 1000L of oil can spread to a radius over 45 metres, potentially resulting in groundwater and surface water pollution.
So, what do sites have to do to ensure fuel tank integrity and better understand when tanks require refurbishment?
Bend-tech now provide free on-site tank inspection which involves ultra-sonic thickness testing at areas most prone to rust and damage. Our above-ground parts team have been working closely with sites to provide an assessment on the extent of damage and an accurate forecast on when the tank may require refurbishment or replacement.
Our Fuel Tank Rotable Program is currently in action across multiple sites, where we send out a brand new tank (stocked in Perth) and carry out the necessary repairs on the damaged tank, which will be available for rotation when required.
Refurbishment involves the tank being stripped back and NDT crack tested, repaired, pressure tested, and blasted in a high-performance Armour Flex coating (protective polyurea coating for areas in which petroleum products, chemicals or harmful environmental contaminates are stored). This adds an extra layer of protection and shock absorption and protects the inside parent metal from scratching. A full report is then prepared for the client, detailing all of the repairs and testing completed.
This process effectively eliminates unplanned downtime and will ensure fuel tanks are constantly up to spec, with the extra strengthening to protect the external from rockfall/collisions and minimising the likelihood of leaks to occur.