On the gas

A new mining project in Western Australia has been a great opportunity for Cummins to showcase its ability to deliver a turnkey power generation solution involving the disciplines of engineering, procurement, construction and project management.

Mt Marion Lithium Project is located around 40 km south-west of Kalgoorlie in the goldfields region of WA and is jointly owned by Mineral Resources Ltd (MRL), China’s largest lithium producer Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co, and Neometals Ltd.

The project was approved for development in October 2010, with major civil constructions beginning in January, 2016. The production of lithium concentrate followed in mid-2016. Mt Marion is the second largest high-grade lithium concentrate mine site in the world, producing lithium which is used mainly in batteries, particularly for electric/hybrid cars.

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Five lean burn natural gas Cummins generator sets form the power station at Mt Marion lithium mine.

Design, deliver, commission.

To meet the power requirements of the mine, MRL turned to Cummins to provide a 9 MW high voltage (11 kV) power station. The Mt Marion power station represents the first LNG power generation facility installed and commissioned for MRL, and the first major supply agreement between Cummins and MRL.

Early in 2016 we were given a clear mandate to design, deliver and commission the 9 MW gas-fired power station for the Mt Marion project,” says Cummins project manager Dallas Gledhill. Cummins quickly assembled its team comprising project managers, engineers, project administrators and field service technicians from Perth and Melbourne.

During the early development phase, Cummins settled on a combination of five lean burn natural gas generators – four QSV91 high-ambient, quad-turbo units rated at 2000 kW,

and one QSK60 rated at 1160 kW. An additional QSV91 is a future option.

Conceptual engineering and design followed, driven by functional requirements, with bi-weekly design reviews transforming the packages from basic enclosures into multi-faceted, interactive power generation modules.

Challenges for project team.

“The project team faced a number of challenges,” says Dallas Gledhill, listing referring to the high ambient temperatures (a high of 47°C has been recorded at the site), dust-laden air, restricted allowable footprint, gas appliance safety restrictions, a proven ability to accept transient loads, and a delivery schedule that necessitated an immediate start.

Once all engineering parameters had been satisfied, Cummins engaged major suppliers via a tendering process, resulting in a core group of stakeholders bound by the common objective. Local fabricators were enlisted for the packaging of the generators and supply of the gas trains, whilst the radiators were sourced from Europe.

Each power generation module contains roof-mounted fan-forced remote radiators and exhaust mufflers, closed dual circuit cooling systems including expansion tanks and de-aerators, make-up lubrication oil tanks, fire and gas detection, centralised generator control panels, and AC and DC lighting throughout.

Fabrication and assembly of the major components were simultaneously carried out over a three-month period, with a staggered delivery schedule to site allowing for a controlled installation. Poor weather and difficult site conditions hampered the installation crew.

Gross wet weight of each QSV91 generator was 42 tonnes, whilst the QSK60 was 29 tonnes.

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One of the four QSV91 high-ambient, quad-turbo gensets rated at 2000 kW

Outstanding solution.

“With the power station ready for handover, the project team can look back on its achievements in delivering an outstanding solution for the Mt Marion site,” says Dallas Gledhill.

Tony O’Connor, project manager for MRL at Mt Marion power station, said: “MRL’s expansion into large scale lithium mining and LNG cryogenic production processes required synergies between all parties, this to ensure a seamless integration of providing uninterrupted power to the mine site. Cummins’ 9 MW gas-fired power station appears to satisfy our power requirements in what is a very difficult environment.”

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Cummins project manager Dallas Gledhill (right) with, from left, MRL project managers Tony O’Connor and Trevor Chadwick, and Cummins service technician Scott Woodward.