Moving metal concentrates from mine to market can present some operational challenges, especially from an environmental perspective
Increasingly, few of the world’s metal mines lie within easy transport distance of markets for their concentrates, the obvious exceptions being in places such as Chile, Zambia and Mexico, where near-mine smelting has long been established as part of an integrated production complex. Nonetheless, by no means all of the concentrates produced in these countries end up in local smelters, with seaborne trade playing a vital role in keeping the world’s metal markets functioning.
In essence, the requirement is for concentrates to be moved efficiently from mine to port by road, rail or (rarely) pipeline, and then from port to smelter by ship. At each stage of the operation, materials-handling systems are needed that can cope with high-density, finely ground material, while both mines and ports require dedicated storage facilities that can provide both security and physical protection from wind and rain.