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Jan 10, 2020

Ofitas de Santutis responds to market volatility with a versatile plant setup

The Ofitas de Santutis quarry was preparing for the recovery of the Spanish construction market. The country’s aggregates sector had been severely impacted by the economic crisis that began in 2008. With the market picking up, but still volatile, in 2016 they built a versatile and flexible aggregate crushing plant that could easily adjust to the needed production capacity and the demands of the market. The operation could easily shift from 400 tonnes/h to 800 tonnes/h.
A view to Ofitas de Santutis site with equipment and forest in the background.

Building an aggregate crushing plant that responds to constant market changes

The quarry project started in the early 2000s by requesting all the necessary permits. After many years in the planning and administration stages, the plant was commissioned in 2016. The Ofitas de Santutis operation is located in the municipality of Peñacerrada, in Álava, northern Spain, near Bilbao.

Mr. Iñigo Ajuria, Owner & General Manager of OSF Group, and Mr. Carlos Fernandez, Engineer Manager of the Ofitas de San Felices quarry, had plenty of time to think about the design of their new plant. During that period, the economy was going up and down, so they wanted a plant that could easily adjust to the needed production capacity and the demands of the market.

The Ofitas quarry, an ophite operation, produces high-quality sand, gravel and ballast. The ballast is mainly delivered to the rail infrastructure works in central and northern Spain; the ballast has a Los Angeles index between 9 and 11, making it suitable for use on the high-speed train network. The sand and gravel go to local works in the surrounding area.

The plant was designed so that it allows working with a primary, secondary and tertiary crusher, or with two secondary crushers for maximum ballast production, or with two tertiary crushers for gravel production.

“We had a long track record of working with Metso and had built personal relationships with them over the course of many years, so the level of trust in them was high. We had no doubt that Metso would deliver what we wanted,” says Iñigo. “We’re extremely happy with the solution they provided. The whole plant brings us the desired results in response to the changes demanded by the market.”

A crushing plant with a highly innovative, multifunctional and flexible configuration

The plant configuration consists of Metso’s Lokotrack® LT125™ primary mobile jaw crusher followed by two Nordberg® HP4 cone crushers working as secondary and tertiary crushers. In this configuration, the plant’s capacity is 400 tonnes per hour. This being the most logical setup, the cone crushers can also work simultaneously as secondary or tertiary units. In doing so, the plant’s capacity is simply doubled to 800 tonnes per hour.

Nordberg HP4 cone crusher installed at a site.
One of the two Metso HP4 cone crushers at Ofitas de Santutis

Iñigo and Carlos both confirm the HP4 cone crushers have been ideal for the high-quality ballast they produce.

“They have proven to be the best kind of cone crusher for this type of product. This is based on their capacity, the quality of the final product and the longevity of wear parts. HP cone crushers are also highly reliable machines. Given the hardstone in our quarry, which has a Los Angeles abrasion value of 10, reliability is not always evident with every cone crusher. We also find that the Metso CVB™ screens are highly reliable and efficient. We’ve had our CVB 2060s for some time,” they note.

What is also interesting at this site is the fact that none of the conveyors rest on the ground. This allows for production flexibility, and easier maintenance and cleaning. This kind of conveyor setup is very rare. Both conveyors feeding the cone crushers have swivel heads, enabling easy access to the crushers for maintenance purposes.

As noted, a Metso LT125 mobile crusher is used as the primary crushing station to feed the plant when operating the primary-secondary-tertiary configuration. However, Ofitas de Santutis also has a second mobile crusher on hand to transform the plant into two secondary lines, if needed.

Metso CVB2060 screen installed.
Screening at Ofitas de Santutis happens with 3 and 4 deck Metso CVB2060 screens

Thus the two versatile and multifunctional Metso ‘plants’ each have their own mobile primary crusher, allowing the plant to be configured to operate with the cone crushers working in tandem as secondary or tertiary crushers, depending on the demand for end-product sizes and doubling the plant’s capacity to 800 tonnes per hour.

Ofitas de Santutis

The Ofitas de Santutis quarry is part of the OSF group. The group’s two other quarries are Ofitas de San Felices, in the Rioja area, and Ofitas del Marquesado, in Granada.OSF has been owned by Iñigo’s family since the 1960s.

After a long period of closure due to reduced market demand, OSF reopened the ophite-rich site in 2016 as the company pursued extra mineral resources to produce ballast for the ambitious Basque Y high-speed rail project linking three major Basque country cities – Vitoria-Gasteiz, Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian – and connecting Basque country with the rest of Spain.

Santutis is renowned for supplying high-quality ballast (30% of the total production), and it also offers customers high-quality 4-12mm, 12-20mm and 20-25mm aggregates products, as well as a 0-4mm sand product for concrete production.

Iñigo and his team currently operate at 400 tonnes per hour. In the future, they are considering bringing in another Lokotrack jaw crusher to meet the demand of the Basque Y high-speed rail project. This would allow them to double their ballast output, thanks to the flexibility of their plant.

Flow chart of the process.
Ofitas de Santutis flow chart done with Bruno simulation software

*Metso Outotec was formed July 1, 2020 when Metso and Outotec merged into one company. This case study has been written prior to the merger under the old company name.

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