Corrosion presents a huge problem for mining companies the world over, but in Australia, where extreme environmental conditions play a role, it’s a critical consideration. Reviews carried out by the Western Australian Corrosion Research Group suggest that corrosion creates a significant cost burden to the mining industry, with estimated costs as high as 3% of GDP. In monetary terms several billion dollars per year.
While some corrosion problems are so serious they can render operations ineffective, others can be easily remedied. The use of composite materials for the construction of walkways and other structures, leaves accessways safe and with need for very little maintenance. This means companies can concentrate their time and budget investing in high-risk corrosion issues that have a direct impact on their core business.
To meet this need, engineers are turning to products such as Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP), as a viable, safer alternative to steel. The replacement of corroded, unsafe flooring has become a huge market for FRP manufacturers.
Perth-based FRP Engineering supplies a large number of these products to the mining sector, including walkway grating, handrails, ladders, access ways, cable ladders, trays and fixings. Their clients are impressed by both the cost effectiveness of the product during its lifecycle and the increased safety factor that it provides.
The strength and corrosion resistance of FRP is related to its glass content, resin content, resin type and method of construction. This unmatched protection is ensured by the manufacturing process in which fibreglass is thoroughly wetted providing continued structural integrity, even in tough environments.
This is, of course, not a new technology. FRP products have been used for over 40 years and have already met the challenges brought by the harsh environmental conditions Australia. However, in the past, the final decision often came down to a matter of budget which saw steel being selected as a cheaper alternative. More recently, the cost of installing composite materials has reduced dramatically and although metallic components may appear more economical initially, they often end up costing more due to high maintenance and replacement costs.
“Our clients come from all sectors of the industry. Many of them who followed the traditional metallic route in the past are now coming back to us to make the switch to FRP because traditional metals often deteriorate in a few years or less, requiring numerous replacements within the facility life.” says Dirk Bevilaqua, Director of FRP Engineering.
“Chemical treatment, washdown and water treatment areas benefit greatly from the use of our products. Problems where weight is an issue, or there’s an increased risk of corrosion, can be solved by installing FRP components.”
The use of composite materials is already very popular within the oil and gas industry where they offer superior resistance to corrosive saltwater, drilling fluids and other chemical compounds. The lighter weight of the composites, one-third the weight of steel, provides substantial savings for floating offshore facilities and significantly reduces the lifting requirements during installation.
So it’s not just their corrosion resistance that makes composite products an attractive prospect for the mining industry. There are a number of benefits associated with choosing FRP over traditional metals such as:
Provided by a meniscus top or permanent grit on FRP flooring products, provides a safer walking surface whether wet, oily or dry
Most products engineered to have a low flame spread rating and self-extinguishing properties
Composite products are both electrically and thermally non-conductive, as well as not affecting electromagnetic or radio wave frequencies
They can withstand major impacts with negligible damage
Corrosion resistant and do not require scraping, sandblasting or repainting
Overall, the result is a product that has minimal maintenance requirements, a long service life and a lower life cycle cost than ferrous metals and aluminium.
So, if you are looking to prevent corrosion, improve the safety of your operation, as well as finding a cost effective and versatile solution , maybe now is a good time to consider looking at the benefits of installing high performance composite products.
If you are interested in learning more you can contact the team at FRP Engineering on (0) 89455 4343 or at https://www.frpengineering.net/contact-us/