Published Mar 7, 2014

How to install a crushing plant at an altitude of 4,860 meters in 35 days

Lack of infrastructure, oxygen and water did not stop the Metso team from achieving the impossible.

Metso modular crushing plant and conveyors at Karzok

Anusha Projects, a sub-contractor for the Indo–China road project released in 2010, were looking to install a crushing plant for the job. For this they needed a partner with the best technology as well as the ability and knowhow to execute a project like this in difficult terrain. Several reference checks and discussion rounds led them to Metso.

 “When we got this project, we knew about the difficulties that lay ahead of us,” recalls Mr. A Jalandhar Reddy, Managing Director, Anusha Projects. “The working conditions were very challenging and, to top it all off, there are not many project management teams gutsy enough to handle such climatic conditions. Our quest to select the right partner ended with Metso and, in my opinion, the real reason was the commitment level of both Anusha and the Metso teams. We succeeded really well.”

Anusha Projects Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad based company, is a mining, drilling and blasting operations company founded in 2002. With diversified activities, they entered the quarrying and crushing business in 2007 to meet the demand of crushed aggregates required by infrastructure development companies.

The tough terrain required technology that can withstand the natural landscape and the difficulties that Anusha faced in this project.

“We couldn’t compromise on the quality of the technology or expertise. Our best choice was Metso. We needed sound technology to back the project, as the working conditions and timelines were quite challenging. Metso’s jaw and cone crushers have a proven track record and have performed in difficult projects – that was clear motivation for selecting them,” Mr. Reddy adds.

With the requirements of the project in mind, the Metso team suggested a modular crushing plant. The reason was simple: Metso’s modular design plant has a high degree of flexibility and is perhaps the most compact offering in the industry, with great ease of transportation and erection. The 235 tph modular plant was fitted with a C106 jaw crusher and a GP11F cone crusher.

Unexplored territory

In December 2010 the discussions started moving forward, and the site location Karzok in Leh was announced. Karzok is about 225 kilometers from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir, and at an altitude of 4,860 meters above sea level. This project challenged Metso on several fronts. Heading 4,860 meters above sea level was definitely exciting, but the proportional challenges were not very clear. Scarcity of oxygen, logistical inaccessibility, and extreme weather conditions are only the most common problems.

Metso modular plant

"The permissible load per vehicle in the area is 7 tons, but the crushers suited for this modular plant were as heavy as 16 tons. A quick decision was made to dismantle the crushers and transport them in parts."

The site in Karzok, Tso Morori, is a place with no connectivity, any way you look at it. No telecommunications and no roads get the adrenaline pumping, not to mention that the area was prone to landslides. Adding to the problems were the very narrow roads, which further limited the cargo-carrying capacity and choice of vehicles.

The road to Karzok is accessible for only for five months a year, from June to October, so Anusha wanted Metso to finish the supply, erection and commissioning in two months so that production could be started in the next three months. To ensure the schedule-bound sufficiency of supplies, the Supply Chain Management (SCM) team ensured the timely delivery of structures and other parts, as any short supplies would result in huge losses of time and money.

Tough gets even tougher…

Despite structured planning, the project was full of challenges, from supply right up to commissioning.

“When we first started transporting material to the site, it was discovered that the permissible load per vehicle on the hilly terrain of Zojilla pass and onwards to Leh is 7 tons,” recounts Alok Jha of Metso India. “This was a nearly insurmountable obstacle in transporting the crushers to the site, as the crushers suited for this modular plant were as heavy as 16 tons. A quick decision was made to dismantle the crushers and transport them in parts. The jaw and cone crushers were taken to our Faridabad warehouse, where they were dismantled and then transported to the site.”

“Like any other project, unexpected delays did creep in; however the sheer grit, dedication and determination of the team ensured the completion of this project in a record 35 days. I recall that at the time of commissioning, the customer could not provide us with a lifting crane. However, the Metso team found a solution to this problem and commissioned the plant with an excavator until the crane was made available. That was quite a challenge,” Alok Jha says.

“The only way to communicate with the team at the site was via a satellite phone, which could be accessed twice a day. No cellular network is available in that area. Extreme climatic conditions were one of the major hurdles. The temperature sometimes plunged to 40 degrees below zero, icy winds sweep the area and it is always dangerous to work at heights with no vegetation around. People fell sick easily, due to mountain sickness, lack of oxygen and cold winds.

“So we always had to be prepared with backup resources. The extreme cold weather also restricted everyone’s working capacity. As a result, three days of work on site at one time had to be reduced to one day. Some of these hurdles could not be anticipated; It wasn’t until we started working at the site that we experienced them.”

Mr. A Jalandhar Reddy of Anusha Projects concludes:

“This was my first project with Metso and I found the team highly competent, committed, and focused. It was not an easy job but what Metso demonstrated was nothing short of a miracle. What impressed me most was their skill in planning and project management, which resulted in the project being completed in just 35 days, despite the tough conditions. They were highly proactive and always ready to go the extra mile in every situation. We were ready for production within a few weeks, and the plant is now performing according to our expectations.”

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