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Stainless Steel for High Performance Enclosures

Stainless Steel for  High Performance Enclosures

Stainless steel is the ultimate materials solution for electrical enclosures in safeguarding the network and communications technology invested in underground mining sites.

Olympic Dam is a large polymetallic underground mine located in South Australia, approximately 550km northwest of Adelaide.

Home to a major source of oxide copper gold deposit, Olympic Dam produces combined quantities of copper, gold, uranium and silver through an underground mining system integrated with a metallurgical processing plant. The large deposit was discovered in 1975 and in 1988, the mine was opened by WMC Resources. Today, Olympic Dam is owned and operated by BHP, following its acquisition of WMC Resources in 2005. 

ASSDA Member and Accredited Fabricator B&R Enclosures was contracted by MPS Building & Electrical to assist with finding a solution to a fibre enclosure hub capable of linking four mining shafts to the surface.

B&R’s design and engineering team worked closely with MPS Building & Electrical to design and fabricate an enclosure specific to BHP’s requirements. The customised solution was supplied through Auslec Electrical and Data located in Wingfield.

The outcome was a double door stainless steel field cabinet, 1000mm deep and capable of housing electrical and monitoring equipment. Due to the remote location of the project and the type of equipment installed, stainless steel sunshades and lockable handles were included to reduce heat within the enclosure and prevent vandalism.

Grade 316 stainless steel with a No. 4 surface finish was specified for the custom-designed enclosures, with material supplied by ASSDA Member Outokumpu in 1.5mm thick sheet. 

Underground communication networks are a critical link between operations below ground and at the surface to ensure efficiencies in production and personnel safety. Protecting the equipment that delivers these communication networks is vital and stainless steel offers the durability and longevity required to deliver a robust structure to ensure preservation of the internal hardware.

In addition, grade 316 stainless steel offers excellent corrosion resistance, particularly to pitting corrosion which can occur in inland Australia due to high salinity in the ground water. 

B&R have worked alongside BHP and MPS Building & Electrical on past projects, installing enclosure solutions into a variety of different applications. B&R’s ability to design custom solutions along with their reliable service meant MPS Building & Electrical could confidently deliver this project and supply an enclosure suitable for harsh mining environments and extreme weather conditions.

As a result of good collaboration and local technical expertise, the project’s stainless steel enclosure design is now a standard specification for future installations across Olympic Dam.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 64, Summer 2018/19.

Lissel Pilcher