The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2017

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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44 | ASIA Miner | Volume 14 • Issue 4 | 2017 WEIR Minerals has considerably enhanced its global tailings solu- tions capability through establishment of the Weir Technical Centre (WTC) in Melbourne, Australia. The centre has become a global hub of tailings expertise for Weir Minerals, providing innovative and sus- tainable tailings and pipeline solutions for its customers worldwide. "Our tailings product offering with world-renowned performance combined with our global service footprint, ensures customers re- ceive high quality tailings solutions," says Weir Minerals director of technology John McNulty. Tailings handling vital Mine operators are continually looking for solutions for the safe transport, storage and disposal of tailings, as well as the opportuni- ty of converting tailings into construction materials and mine backfill. "The handling of tailings is one of the most important factors going forward in mining. A tailings dam is an engineering structure that has a design lifetime of 1000 years, which can be an immense challenge to achieve," says Weir Technical Centre general manager operations and development Nils Steward. The increase in tailings dam failures worldwide has a negative im- pact on a mining company's social licence to operate (SLO). With this in mind, an efficient tailings management system is a necessity and integral to how a company operates from an environmental and safety perspective. Another factor to consider is decreasing ore grades, resulting in increased mining volumes to achieve the same mineral production. This is increasing the production of tailings on mine sites. "Typically tailings are moved as slurry using pumps, and this is where Weir Minerals' expertise comes to the fore. We have more than 140 years of engineering expertise and continue to advance our pumping technology. With an extensive pump range, and more than 100 engineers across the globe focusing on pump design and new product development, our highly engineered pumps are constantly modified and enhanced," says John McNulty. Weir Minerals designs and develops a number of products that specialise in the transport of tailings. "Our GEHO pumps are expert- ly designed to transport tailings over long distances and are some of the world's most advanced positive displacement pumps," John McNulty continues. "Our renowned Warman slurry pump range is a recognised global leader in the mining industry, and the horizontal and vertical slurry pumps are specifically designed for heavy duty applications including handling tailings slurries." All Weir Minerals' tailings products and solutions are backed by continuous advanced research and in-house test facilities such as those available at the WTC. Pipe loop testing and research Since incorporation of the WTC into the portfolio in 2016, Weir Min- erals has been busy enhancing its tailings offering to customers around the globe. The WTC is dedicated to designing site specific transport sys- tems for mining operators using its proprietary pipe loop test facility, dewatering and separation capabilities together with its extensive experience in mining, tailings and backfill markets. "We have the technology to test pipeline and tailings solutions for our customers before they are installed on site. By testing materials and equipment, we can fully understand the performance of the selected pumps when transporting solids, which provides us with valuable insight into pump performance, efficiency and predictive maintenance," says Nils Steward. "Mineral slurries vary in many ways - mineralogy, particle size dis- tribution, solids concentration and chemistry - and thus each slurry behaves differently when in a pipe system. Therefore the relatively simple task of pilot test work is a very important activity as it helps determine the best solution for our customers' sites while reducing the overall design risk ." Pipeline selection in terms of size, material, as well as possible lin- ing types, is essential to ensuring overall pipeline transport success, efficiency and system longevity. The selection of pipe size, togeth- er with pump and motor specifications, pose the greatest risk to any pumping operation. The WTC can assist with the correct slurry characterisation and pipeline pressure gradient data to reduce, or remove, this process risk to the operator. Using data generated at the WTC, Weir Minerals tailings' special- ists can specify tailings handling products and processes to suit operators' site specific environmental and operational conditions. This helps mine operators minimise power and water consumption as well as the risk associated with design. Tailings disposal There are a number of opportunities operators can investigate when considering the disposal of metallurgical tailings. In order to create a more effective tailings disposal solution, a deeper understanding of tailings properties is required. "At the WTC, we analyse an operator's tailings to determine the opportunities in which the tailings can be modified, utilised or trans- ported," says Nils Steward. Weir Technical Centre a hub of tailings expertise The Weir Technical Centre in Melbourne has enhanced Weir Minerals' global tailings solutions capability.

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