The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2019

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

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the asia miner • volume 16 • issue 3 5 LEADING DEVELOPMENTS Taking responsibility for the planet's lifeblood Water is the lifeblood of our planet and a resource essenঞal to minerals processing, which must be used conservaঞvely. Iঞs criঞcal for every mine site, and mine operators must be conscious of how they use it, as well as being innovaঞve in its re-use and handling. In operaঞons, water is predominantly used for minerals processing in dust suppression and slurry transport. Without it, the enঞre operaঞon would stop. Every mine site faces a different challenge with water: it is either scarce or in excess, which causes various issues respecঞvely. A comprehensive, reliable and flexible dewatering plan is essenঞal to ensuring a steady supply of process water throughout the site. Conversely, the removal of excess water from working areas to allow excavaঞon to conঞnue whilst safeguarding the operators and maintaining producঞvity also requires a dewatering plan. "There is no 'one size fits all' approach to dewatering," states Ian Ross, Global Product Manager for Dewatering at Weir Minerals. "It can be an expensive and complex challenge, which is why we deliver bespoke strategies that are cost effecঞve and manageable. "At Weir Minerals, our strength lies in our engineering and project management capabiliঞes. We have the knowledge, experঞse and range of equipment to opঞmise the enঞre dewatering component of a site." Each site's dewatering requirements vary and present unique challenges, with environmental and geological consideraঞons, as well as local climaঞc variaঞons. Differences in weather condiঞons and environmental changes, for example, can have a significant effect on an operaঞon. The challenges operators face with water will change from region to region. From the outback of Australia where water is scarce, the recovery of water is desperately required compared to the tropical climates of Brazil, where open pits rapidly fill with water, or sub-zero ( - 50 0 C) arcঞc operaঞons in Northern Canada that operate year-round. All of them, irrespecঞve of their varying challenges, require effecঞve water management systems and a strong partner to support them. "We have extensive experience helping either open pit or underground mine sites with their water management challenges," comments Mr Ross. "From designing and implemenঞng a unified, fully- automated dewatering system in Czech Republic to delivering a dewatering system to withstand high wind speeds and tropical storms in Africa, we rarely meet a challenge we cannot overcome." There are also a number of factors affecঞng the dewatering system – including the permeability and porosity of the ground, the amount of surface water, and geological features such as seasonal rainfall – which must all be assessed and factored into a detailed dewatering system before work can begin. The dewatering system put in place must be able to cope with this to provide a safe soluঞon and minimise producঞon delays. The composiঞon of water being moved has a notable impact on the equipment and materials used. The pH range, temperature, corrosive and abrasive content all play a criঞcal role in selecঞng the equipment to transport water effecঞvely. The presence of solids in the water, the specific gravity, size distribuঞon and content percentage will determine the type of pumps required. The pipework and valves are also subject to corrosion and abrasion from the products handled and must be designed accordingly. To deliver the opঞmal soluঞon for every dewatering project, it is important the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) understands the environment before developing the strategy. The pialls of over or undersized equipment include excessive energy use, high cost investment and maintenance, risk to equipment and personnel, as well as lost producঞon in the case of insufficient capacity. Cameron Murphy, Regional Director of Dewatering for Weir Minerals says the Company can supply a vast range of flexible soluঞons that allows Weir to use several types of pumping equipment. "We can offer a selecঞon ranging from self-primed diesel driven, submersibles, verঞcal turbine and mulঞstage to high- wall pump designs for sites that have limited access due to high-sided mine pits. "Our development of sophisঞcated pontoon and barge designs allows our equipment to float out over water bodies for easier access. All designs are rigorously tested and include safety features to help prevent risk to operators. Each of our pontoons is designed with a fully-tested anchoring system and can be customised for extreme weather condiঞons," states Mr Murphy. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT With depleঞng ore grades around the world, there is an emphasis on turning waste into energy, and the dewatering process is no different. Weir Minerals produces equipment that not only dewaters mine sites, but also enables the operator to recycle and re-use back through the plant.

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