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New bulk emulsion facility for EPC-UK

EPC-UK start construction of emulsion plant

Company sets plans in motion to make state-of-the-art emulsion production ‘best in class’ for operational safety 

EPC-UK, specialists in the UK commercial explosives and blasting services sector, have begun the construction of a new bulk emulsion facility at their Rough Close Works, in Derbyshire. 

The aim of the project is to provide the necessary infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment, which, combined, will ensure the company’s Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate manufacturing process incorporates some of the latest technology for enhanced safety. 

Better known as Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate or ANBI, emulsion is the primary raw material in EPC-UK’s Blendex range of site-mixed bulk explosives and is being used by the company’s ‘Rock-on-Ground’ service team, as well as its direct supply customers.

Due for completion by the end of this year, the facility will be created by adapting existing buildings to allow EPC-UK to house the process equipment and raw material storage vessels. 

Two new structures will accommodate an Ammonium Nitrate silo at the beginning of the process and a final product silo during the latter stages. A new steam and condensate line, along with a new weighbridge, will be installed while the access road to the matrix plant is to be widened. 

As an Upper Tier COMAH site (Control of Major Accident Hazards), EPC-UK ensures that the production of their emulsion meets the most stringent safety requirements. The new plant has been designed to be fully compliant with UK legislation as well as meeting international and EPC Groupe standards.  

Using Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) in accordance with BS EN 61511 (Functional Safety) to achieve the highest levels of safety, the bulk emulsion facility will provide a safer and more ergonomic working environment for both operations and maintenance personnel. It is understood that it will be the first emulsion plant to comply with the majority of the criteria cited.

From a design perspective, significant attention has been paid to the facility’s ability to heighten operator and maintenance team safety with the incorporation of new control system displays, a variety of access and egress improvements, and the colouring and labelling of process pipework.

Chris Barlow, operations manager at EPC-UK’s Rough Close Works operation, said: ‘The manufacture of emulsion demands that stringent safety standards are consistently adhered to. We also wanted to devise a manufacturing process that was considered more efficient in terms of energy usage; reducing the company’s carbon footprint and production costs, whilst also having the flexibility to vary production rates, work conveniently to operational requirements and improve operator utilization. 

‘The new site will allow us to increase our production to 19,000 tonnes a year, as well as enable a variable production rate of between eight and 18 tonnes per hour. It will also provide us with the opportunity to produce underground emulsion, adding a supplementary product to our portfolio.’

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