Metso Insights Case studies Aggregates Metso Lokotrack performs in the most extreme climate, Antarctica, for customer Leidos
May 6, 2020

Metso Lokotrack performs in the most extreme climate, Antarctica, for customer Leidos

Leidos, the prime contractor for the Antarctic Support Contract, chose Metso Lokotrack for its rebuilding project at McMurdo research station in Antarctica. In a location with understandably the strictest environmental regulations in the world, Leidos needed a dependable yet flexible crushing and screening solution given a long logistics chain with months-long intervals of no service.
Two Lokotracks pictured in Antarctica.
Setup of Lokotrack crushing and screening plants begins in icy conditions.

In late 2019, Metso released details of its journey to deliver three Lokotrack crushing and screening plants for the reconstruction of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) McMurdo research station in Antarctica.

The McMurdo research station is located at 78° South and 167° East with temperatures ranging from -40 to +40 Fahrenheit (-40 to +4 Celsius). The station is being rebuilt under the Antarctic Infrastructure and Modernization for Science (AIMS) project to upgrade the station for improved logistical and energy efficiency.

Leidos, the NSF’s prime contractor for the Antarctic Support Contract (ASC) as well as the AIMS project, selected the Metso Lokotrack® LT106™ jaw crusher plant, Lokotrack® LT200HP™ cone crusher, and Lokotrack® ST3.8™ mobile screen for the job, which involves producing roughly 150,000 cubic yards (126,000 cubic meters) of engineered fill.

The machines arrived in Antarctica in February, and Leidos has been very pleased with the results. Equipment was retrofitted for extreme cold at Metso’s Tampere, Finland, facility and purchased through Colorado-based distributor Wagner Equipment. Metso’s equipment will be used for three years to crush ground materials for construction and expansion projects all over the base, including docks, runways, building foundations, and roadways.

“So far, Metso’s equipment is getting the job done beyond our expectations,” says David DesAutels, Leidos-ASC fleet analyst.

McMurdo research station in Antarctica.

Lokotrack end-to-end solution

Weather conditions in Antarctica can make a logistics challenge for such a large construction project, with supplies only arriving once a year. There was over a year of lead time between contract award and delivery of equipment, Leidos knew it needed the backing of a flexible plant design.  

With a proven track record of reliability and durability, Metso and Wagner Equipment worked together to offer a winning solution, including:

  • A thorough winterization package
  • The most comprehensive recommended spare parts list with data to support maintenance, plus wear parts
  • An end-to-end solution

In addition to equipment winterization, Metso prepared its maintenance and spare parts offering so that everything conceivable would be anticipated and serviced independently on site.

“Metso made a variety of changes, especially for the climate conditions, such as installing a central J-box to plug to external generators when not in use to help heat all fluids, batteries, etc.” explains Richard Sack, Crushing and Screening Sales, Wagner. “Metso also insulated all hoses and installed arctic belting to be ready for the harsh conditions.”

Production of 11 different gradations

Under the AIMS project, Leidos is required to produce multiple products over a period of three years from a variety of parent materials. The production window spans just a few months during the Austral Summer each year of the contract.

Leidos is currently feeding basalt of unknown hardness <24” into the LT106 jaw crusher for primary reduction to <6”, with the LT200HP cone crusher providing final reduction to <2”, with a specific particle size distribution encompassing 11 different gradations. The hard basalt comes from an area near the station.

This is a closed circuit configuration that will allow for consistent high production requirements given the extreme conditions.

“Metso had to make sure the units would all operate running on ‘Jet A-1’ aviation fuel, as it is suitable for cold conditions and the only source available at the site.” says Sack. “As far as the long service intervals are concerned, Metso equipment is thoroughly engineered to work hard with minimal maintenance requirements.”

Metso Lokotrack equipment performing beyond expectations in Antarctica.
Pile of aggregate and equipment around it in the snowy Antarctica.

Performance beyond expectations

Leidos aims to meet the demands of the AIMS project as safely, timely, and efficiently as possible.“Crushing in the southernmost part of the world, under such extreme and challenging conditions, was the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Michael Rakas, Metso technical support representative responsible for setup. “Both picturesque and remote, Antarctica delivered. A special thanks to David and Jeff from Leidos for an unforgettable experience.”

“Project success will be defined by meeting production goals without undue environmental impacts or risk to personnel,” explains DesAutels. “To date, the equipment has served us well in both those critical elements.”

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