November 21, 2017

Comparing Steel, Fabric and Concrete Mining Facilities

Mining is a rugged commercial industry, requiring a resilient workforce, tough equipment and machinery, and incredibly durable buildings and facilities. From storage and surge pile covers, to personnel accommodation buildings, directional drilling structures, staging and logistical facilities, mining structures must be the strongest, most advanced buildings available for commercial industry applications.

While concrete and steel mining structures have been traditionally used for decades, new advances in engineering, design and technology have resulted in a more viable alternative. Instead of traditional buildings, fabric structures provide more functionality and versatility for mining applications.

Concrete mining structures are very strong, and offer heavy-duty security as cast-in-place buildings, with insulation from sound and vibration. The material acts as an effective barrier from the elements, with remarkable structural stability and strength to keep any airborne contaminants, inclement weather, and extreme external events at bay. It is also highly fireproof. Concrete also has some benefits as a sustainable material for mining structures. However, the nature of the material has the downside of having inherent solar heat gain, which reduces its energy efficiency. Additionally, since concrete mining structures are cast-in-place, they can never be portable, and would be a poor choice for short-term mining applications.

Prefabricated steel buildings provide secure, 24-hour mining capability. This material is often ribbed for added strength, and is completely weatherproof. Since steel mining buildings have a thermal break between the framework of the building and the siding on the exterior, there is improved thermal efficiency with steel structures. Steel has other advantages over concrete, including greater design flexibility, improved construction speeds, higher cost performance, and reduced weight. The option for easy replacement of damaged or faulty panels is another benefit of steel mining structures over concrete ones, since the panels can be repaired or replaced without disturbing internal structures or operations. But steel mining structures are still only marginally more portable than other brick-and-mortar buildings, and do not have the energy efficiency or customizations of today’s fabric structures for mining.

As the industry has found, fabric structures for mining provide significant benefits as compared with concrete and steel structures. Although fabric buildings are not quite as strong as concrete or steel ones, the benefits far outweigh this slight (and inconsequential) disadvantage. The advantages include extraordinary durability for both permanent and short-term applications, reduced construction time, more economical pricing, increased customization and add-on options, remarkable portability, and optimized materials for effective site remediation. Since the materials for fabric structures last for many years, even when repeatedly setup and torn down, they offer a far more economical and sustainable choice. Fabric structures for mining are far more energy efficient than concrete or steel buildings, and can be installed virtually anywhere in the world due to their versatile foundation options and resilience in even the most extreme environments.

Due to their energy efficiency, portability, strength, customization, and lifespan, fabric structures for mining applications are often a better investment choice as compared with concrete and steel buildings.

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