Wash Plant for Sale: Key Questions to Ask Before Buying

April 7, 2021
Before purchasing one of the many configurations of wash plants available for sale, ask the following questions to understand what type of plant will bring you the most ROI.

When looking at a wash plant for sale, there are many different types of systems that can accomplish a variety of tasks for your wet processing plant, including:

  • Feed preparation
  • Sizing
  • Pumping
  • Desliming
  • Wet Classifying
  • Organics Removal
  • Densifying and Dewatering
  • Effluent Treatment
  • Waste Solids Management

Buying a wash plant can be as simple as purchasing a Fine Material Screw Washer for washing, classifying and partially dewatering a sand product, or it can include multiple pieces of equipment ranging from the feed preparation stage through the tailings management stage.

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Wash plants available for sale from dealers and manufacturers can also come in one of three styles:

  • Stationary
  • Modular
  • Portable

Stationary plants are fixed, permanent structures that can be designed from scratch for any processing requirement or throughput. These are best for high-volume applications, high-value products or longer-term mine sites.

Modular plants, such as the UltraWASH, are mounted on skid-based modules. They are designed for easier setup and relocation, and can range from standard configurable modules to fully customized modules. They are ideal for urgent need or common applications, short-term sites or lower throughput applications.

Portable plants are mounted on a Department of Transportation approved chassis. They can be moved from site to site and are ideal for short-term sites, sites with multiple locations or sites with an urgent need since they can often be rented from a dealer.

Because there are many different types of wash plants for sale and an endless number of configurations available, it is important to understand your production goals and any limiting factors before purchasing a wash plant.

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Know The Basics

The first questions you need to ask before buying a wash plant involve the material to be processed and the site requirements.

What are you starting with?

Knowing what material you will be feeding the plant will help to determine what type of equipment is necessary to get the material to the desired product specifications as well as the size of equipment required. It is important to note the size gradation and if there are any contaminants in the feed.

How many years of reserves are available at this site?

The lifespan of the site can dictate whether purchasing a stationary, modular or portable wash plant is the option that will provide the best ROI. You’ll also want to take into consideration if there are other sites you’ll be moving to later, as this will also help to determine whether a stationary, modular or portable plant is the best choice.

Are permits needed?

If you need permits for your site, do you have those already in place or do you need to apply for them? Obtaining the necessary permits for processing material can sometimes be a lengthy process. Modular or portable plants have a smaller, more compact footprint and may reduce permitting requirements. Another question you may want to ask is if it will be easier to get the required permits if the equipment is modular.

Do you already have some equipment that you would like to incorporate into the plant?

The wash plant will need to work well with other equipment and automation systems if you already have conveyors, screens and crushers or PLCs at your site. 

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Understanding Your Goals

After you’ve answered the basic questions, it is time to look more specifically at your production goals before buying a wash plant.

What do you want to produce and at what capacity?

This is pretty self-explanatory. You need to know what specifications your final product needs to hit, as well as how much product you need to make to meet your demand.

How many tons per year of these products can be sold and at what price?

Are the products you’re making low value products or high value products? Knowing how much you can sell and at what price they will sell will affect plant ROI.

What is the operating duty and in what climate will the plant be operated?

This question can be broken down more specifically into:

  • How many hours per week can the plant be operated?
  • How many weeks out of the year can the plant be operated?
  • What climate considerations need to be considered?

Since wash plants require water and because water freezes in the winter, plants located in colder climates may be limited in their operation. If you can only operate for eight months of the year as opposed to 12, you will need a higher capacity plant to produce the desired tons per hour to meet yearly production goals.

What is the desired capacity/hour of this plant? What is the required ROI and payback period?

Desired capacity will dictate what type of plant is required – stationary, modular or portable, but ROI also is a factor here. The best plant for a particular application is able to produce the desired tons per hour at the quickest ROI.

How soon do you want the plant to be up and running?

The answer to this question is usually “Yesterday”, but realistically everyone wants their plant up and running as soon as possible. How soon you want to be up and running will affect the type of plant (stationary, modular or portable), but the other factors should also be taken into consideration to determine how lead-time will affect overall ROI.   

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Limiting Factors

Limiting factors are factors that affect payback and design choices when looking at wash plants that are available for sale.

Will I need to move this plant in the next three to five years?  

The sooner you need to move plant will impact how big of a structure you need to consider. Stationary plants are typically best for long-term sites, while modular are ideal for sites with less than a five-year lifespan, as these can be torn down and rebuilt in another location quickly.

If you only need to be processing material for a few days or weeks, portable or track-mounted plants may be the best bet.

How much space is available for the equipment?

Along with ground space restrictions, you also want to consider any height restrictions. Modular and portable plants tend to have a much smaller footprint than large stationary plants both horizontally and vertically, which make them ideal for sites with space restrictions.

You also want to consider here if the plant will be covering up mineable reserves. A modular or portable plant may make it easier to move the plant to access these reserves later if you have a shorter-term site.

Are there noise restrictions?

It’s important to be a good neighbor, so consider your surroundings. If your site is close to a residential area, the municipality may have noise restrictions in place that you need to adhere to.

Do I need to incorporate this into an existing plant or with an existing structure?

This will help to determine if there are any constraints as to interfaces or transfer points from one piece of equipment to another.

How much power and water is available for use at the plant?

This will affect the type of equipment or module that is used.

Where or how will the tailings be dewatered/handled/stored?

All wash plants for sale in the market will generate tailings – a byproduct of the washing process that includes all the unwanted material removed from the product along with the water used in the process. You need to determine the following:

  • How are the tailings going to be stored?
  • How much room is available for storage and/or tailings management equipment?
  • What are the local requirements around handling tailings?

Establishing a tailings management plan when designing a wash plant will help to determine what additional permits, space and equipment are required. 

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Other Important Questions

Once you have an understanding of your goals and any limiting factors, other questions you may ask before purchasing a wash plant that is available for sale include:

What is the price of a wash plant?

Because wash plants are available in a variety of styles and configurations to suit a multitude of tasks, they can vary in cost from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars. The price will depend on the feed material and your production goals.

Can I buy a wash plant locally?

Local dealers will often stock OEM wash equipment and parts specific to the needs of their customers, but you can also purchase full wash plants directly through them as well. Purchasing through a dealer provides the benefits of service and support within a short distance from your site. 

Next Steps

When looking at wash plants for sale, knowing your production goals and limiting factors before purchasing the plant will allow you to have a better understanding of the type and style of plant you need to be considering. The next step is to contact an equipment manufacturer or your local dealer to discuss this information with them and to begin designing the wash plant that will produce your desired in-spec product at the best ROI.

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Tags: Washing and Classifying, Aggregates, Tailings Management, Water Management, Fines Recovery, Modular, Concrete Sand, Industrial Sands, Wet Processing Equipment