Cox Station Quarry upgrade triples production

Recent upgrades to the Cox Station Quarry plant in B.C. translates to a possible 5 million tonnes per year

After more than a decade in the making, Mainland Construction Materials is now adding the finishing touches to an aggregate plant upgrade at its Cox Station Quarry.

The flagship quarry, located on the Fraser River in Abbotsford, British Columbia, holds about 120 million metric tonnes in permitted, privately-owned aggregate reserves.

The 400-acre property was purchased in 1981, following an extensive location search that lasted more than two years.

Previously planned

The Carlson family, the original owners of the site, planned to upgrade the plant in the mid-2000s.

A MK-1 Allis Chalmers 54-74 Superior Gyratory was purchased to serve as the plant’s primary crusher. However, the economic downturn in 2008 stalled the upgrade plan.

“It went to tender, but the market crashed in 2008 and they decided to pause it until the market got better,” said Colin Herbert, aggregate equipment manager for Mainland.

When the market rebounded, the upgrade was again delayed, as Mainland’s efforts were focused on supplying several large infrastructure projects with aggregate.

In 2014, the Denver-based Summit Materials made its first Canadian acquisition by purchasing Mainland. Alongside purchasing the operating company, Summit also signs long-term lease with the Carlson family for the Cox Quarry site.

Cox station quarryThe new owners of the quarry re-visited the plan to upgrade the plant, and Summit’s board of directors gave it the green light in 2017.

Gerrod McAuley, the site mine manager, Summit Materials’ Bob Price and Brent Ward, as well as Mainland Construction Materials President Kevin Spent were instrumental in the project getting the green light.

“After many revisions and many meetings, we decided we were going to go with this,” Herbert said.

After Summit’s engineers designed the plant, the construction contract was awarded to Superior Industries.

The upgrade

After about a year of construction, the majority of the project was completed on December 14.

The plant now includes a completely rebuilt and upgraded MK-1 Allis Chalmers 54-74 Superior Gyratory as the primary crusher.

“It has some serious throughput. We completely refurbished the Mark 1 gyratory to Metso specs using Metso parts. We did all the Mark 2 upgrades, as much as we could,” Herbert said. “It’s still a 500 rpm, 600 hp, 4,000-volt motor.”

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As well, the plant incorporates a Sandvik CS-660 and a Sandvik CH-660 as the secondary crushers and two Superior Patriot P-400 cone crushers as tertiary machines.

Furthermore, the plant is equipped with five 2.5 metre by 7.5 metre Deister triple deck, triple drive screen decks and 42 conveyors.

Production boost

Before completing the upgrade, the Cox Station Quarry was producing about 600 metric tonnes an hour.

Now, the plant is averaging about 2,100 tonnes per hour.

“The gyratory crusher is capable of running more than the 2,200 tonnes per hour, but with the distance we’re running, this is the sweet spot,” Herbert said.

“We have three trucks feeding it. A fourth may be added as the bench gets farther away.”

Going digital

Upgrading the plant also included making the move from analogue to digital.

The Sandvik and Patriot crushers were delivered equipped with IO-link IFM sensors. The Metso parts for the Gyratory crusher are also equipped with digital sensors.

“It was the best-case scenario, everything just tied in together. It’s paying huge dividends for us right now. What you’re looking at is actually happening within a millisecond,” Herbert said. “Everybody is going to this because it is the best in the industry.”

While the plant is now operational, there are a few final touches required before the upgrade is 100 per cent complete. The contractor is working non-production hours and weekends to complete tasks like hooking up lights and cameras. As well the staff is getting the hang of operating the plant.

“The ground guys are still establishing the new norm. Everything is so new to them now,” Herbert said.

“They’ve gone from basically a plant that was a hodgepodge of used equipment from auctions to this brand-new plant that’s completely automated.”

What’s next

As the Cox Station Quarry is located on the Fraser River, about 99 per cent of the material leaves the site via barge.

To move aggregate from the quarry to the river, Mainland built a 1.2-metre-wide conveyor system that feeds into a river load-out system.

Now, Mainland will enter the second phase of upgrades. Beginning in late February, the company plans to upgrade the river load-out at the Cox Station Quarry. All upgrades are expected to be completed by April. Historically, the quarry has provided an average 2.5 million metric tonnes to the local market each year.

The upgrades will allow the quarry to double that number, if the local market demands it.