Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tin dredge at Tanjung Tualang, Perak

We had the opportunity to photograph a tin dredge in Tanjung Tualang that was just open to to the public in January this year.

According to the Star, The dredge, T.T. No 5 was built in 1938 by W.F. Payne & Sons for Pernas Chartered Management Sdn Bhd. when the Kinta Valley was the world’s richest tin producing area

Operations stopped in 1983 due to the collapse of the tin mining industry. Since then, it has lain in a man-made pond at Desa Perlombongan, about 10km from Batu Gajah, Perak.

Ever wanted to know how a tin dredge works? The Queensland Environment and Resource Management website has this to say:

Operation of a Bucket Line Dredge

A mining dredge comprises a mechanical excavator and a screening, washing and concentrating plant, all mounted on a pontoon. The dredge performs four functions:

1. Excavates the alluvial material

2. Screens the material into two or more sizes, usually with a revolving screen

3. Treats the fines to recover their metallic or heavy components, usually on tables or jigs

4. Deposits the fines from the treatment plant and the coarse rejects from the screen to the rear of the dredge.

The dredge floats in an artificial pond often supplied with water from an outside source. It digs at the bow and deposits washed tailings at the stern, thus carrying the pond with it as it advances.

The structure is covered with corrugated steel sheets, which still look surprisingly good. I wonder if it was given a paint job recently.. hmmmm.

The dredge is a massive steel structure when looked up close.

An enterprising chinaman would set his eyes on the thousands of tonnes of scrap metal that could be sold to a scrap metal dealer. That's probably why there are so few dredges left in West Malaysia.

The waste from the tin ore is deposited at the end of the stern shown here. A family of birds have happily made their home here too and are perched along the steel wires supporting the structure.

The interior of the dredge is very vast and utilitarian; yet its design exudes a very logical, english industrial design language typical of its time.

The digging end comprises an endless chain of cast manganese steel buckets carried on a fabricated steel ladder at an angle of approximately 45 degrees when operating at maximum depth. The ladder carries a circular tumbler at its lower end and a series of rollers on its upper side to support the loaded buckets.

To get to the top of the dredge, you have to climb an endless maze of rusting steel catwalks and ladders. Oh yes, do say a prayer before you do so, with the hope that the stucture wouldn't collapse while supporting your weight!

You can see the giant pulleys used to operate the buckets on the left.

As with any man-made structure, if left on its own, nature always takes over. This place could probably turn out as a jungle in 50 years..

Its a pretty awesome feeling when you look down at the vast space beneath you. This machine is silent now, but imagine the amount of noise and vibrations that you would experience if this thing was actually in operation!

Here we are at the top of the dredges' bow. Even though this place has been recently ''refurbished'', I dared not to venture too far, or else...

...you could pretty much end up in a watery grave. And only god knows what thing [or things] are in that pond!

The tin mining industry has caused irreparable damage to the environment of West Malaysia, as evidenced by the vast tracts of mining ponds when I was at the top of the dredge's bow.

As the buckets pass over the top tumbler, they discharge into a hopper from where a chute directs the dredged material into a revolving (or trommel) screen. Here it is washed by high pressure water jets, the fine ore-bearing material passing through the perforations (normally about 10 mm in size) and proceeding to the treatment plant and the oversize material continuing over the screen.

The undersize from the screen is passed to ore concentrating and recovery equipment, consisting of a series of pulsating jigs. The concentrate is removed for further treatment while the tailings are discharged down a sluice at the stern of the dredge.

I reckon these huge electrical generators were used to power the dredge when it was in use.

I hope to return here one day. This place is just absolutely wonderful!

1 Comment:

AnandaSim said...

I was gonna say that the cladding is corrugated iron but the wikipedia article says for many, many years, it is actually steel. But it's not stainless steel so it rusts unless you coat it zinc in the galvanising process.

From The Star article, they spent RM 100,000 to make the dredge look better. http://brandoneu.blogspot.com/2009/07/tin-dredge-at-tanjung-tualang-perak.html

The digging buckets may be cast iron. Cast iron is a relatively cheap and efficient way of making large thick tools.


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