ICD’s engineers have designed many facilities to withstand harsh environments, but few needed to be as tough as this heater module building for a remote mine site in Mongolia.

Rio Tinto operate the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the South Gobi region of Mongolia. As part of the move to underground operations, ICD’s client Howden were engaged to build heater module buildings to clean the incoming air from sand particles and heat the air prior to ventilating mine shafts.

The site faces extreme environmental challenges including wind speeds over 220 km/hr and temperature differentials between -32°C during winter up to 39°C during summer. In addition, an allowance of 100 mm of sand and snow build-up was required on the roof of the buildings.

ICD was required to design to various client and international standards, including the International Building Code 2018 and ASCE/SEI 7-16. ICD’s design supported an 8 tonne overhead crane and  sweeping monorails to facilitate safe heater coil removal, while all hot pipework / coils / equipment was to be fully enclosed via mesh screens.

Due to the remote location of the mine, the building was required to be fabricated offsite and then brought to site in modular sections to minimise site installation time. Additionally, the client requested ICD to optimise the fabricated steel mass, with a target of 363 tonnes per heater house to keep construction costs down while preferring to avoid expansion bellows / flexible hoses in the piping design.

ICD worked with multiple client vendors in developing the design, taking on a project management role in delivering the design package.

ICD’s modular structure design was finalised with a fabricated weight of 245 tonnes, an additional 118 tonnes saving per Heater House compared to the client target. Our team optimised the Piping design and avoided the need for expansion bellows / flexible hoses, eliminating common failure points.

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