December, 2021

IWCs’ Bulk Air Cooler, 27 years old & still chillin’

IWCs’ Bulk Air Cooler, 27 years old & still chillin’

Upon visiting a platinum mine in Rustenburg, we came across one of our older Bulk Air Coolers (BAC) and Condenser Cooling Towers (CCT) which were designed and built in 1994 as part of one of Anglo American’s Rustenburg operations surface refrigeration plants.

The refrigeration plant consists of multiple chillers that provide chilled water required by the BAC to lower the air temperature by using large capacity centrifugal fans. The BAC forces this cold air into the mine workings via a raise bored shaft that extends in excess of a kilometre into the earth. The chillers in turn require large volumes of condenser cooling water, hence the large field erected cooling tower.

The reduced air temperature in the mine enables improved safety and efficiencies as the mineworkers are able to work for longer, due to the more comfortable environment. With rock temperatures exceeding 60°C, it is important for mines to install ventilation and cooling systems to safeguard employee health.

The forced draught counterflow Bulk Air Cooling tower (BAC) was customed designed for the mine. The BAC shown in the photographs is a 4 cell unit, delivering a duty of 10.5MW. The structure is a cast in situ concrete structure with a removable Isowall panel to facilitate access into the vent shaft. In close proximity is the CCT, a single cell, induced draft cooling tower delivering a duty of 11.3MW. The CCT is also a cast in situ concrete structure. Both the CCT and BAC are equipped with IWC’s robust, non-fouling splash pack that has been operating successfully since commissioning.

IWC is proud to be associated with the South African gold and platinum mining industry, and has provided a number of large, field-erected condenser cooling towers as well as both surface, and underground bulk air coolers, to various mines across the country.

December, 2021

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