Rock Products

JUL 2019

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

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26 • ROCKproducts • July 2019 Pumps T he mining industry is supported by a vast system of pumps and pipes. Whether to transport slurries filled with product or to siphon away waste and excess water, pumps surround the operation. However, mined materials are not always soft, safe and easy to handle. A lot of damage can be done to the pumps trying to process these materials, and this costs money in repair and compro- mises safety. In order to ensure safety and efficiency in the mining industry, it is important to install the pumping equip- ment that can handle the job. Pumping and Conveyance in the Mining Industry A great variety of media must be conveyed during mining projects. As companies penetrate deeper into the earth seek- ing natural resources they encounter a host of extraneous and/or waste materials that must be siphoned away. Other times the substance being mined is extracted from sludges and slurries created by the mining process. In this case, the material must be safely pumped away for further processing. When mining for precious metals and minerals, stone bearing these substances is often crushed into a slurry that then must be transported for chemical extraction and processing via pumping systems. While water is sometimes added to make transport easier, many slurries are eventually thickened to help separate the desired solids and to help with waste management. The waste from processing and/or extraction, called the tailings, is pumped into a waste area or facility for later disposal. Pumps are also required to dose materials with additives such as adding different kinds of chemicals for treatment and processing or adding flocculants to waste water to pro- mote clumping and ease of filtration. Mining operations drain water from slurries of product to help extract the desired substance and from waste to simplify waste storage and min- imize the potential for contamination. Some mining requires more volatile practices such as the use of explosives or extraction of dangerous and/or radioactive materials. When explosives are needed, mining companies must be able to comply with special conveyance conditions to ensure safe transport. Challenges and Safety Concerns Mining precious metals or hard minerals can place machines under extreme stress, increasing the chances for mechanical failure and the price of the raw material. The sludges and slurries containing these materials are extremely abrasive and can destroy pumping systems in a matter of days. While adding water can make it easier to pump, it also increases the effort required to thicken, concentrate, and extract the substance later. The efficiency, safety and uptime of the pumping systems can be increased by selecting the optimal pump technology for the application and using appropriate wear resistant construction materials. While pumping and conveyance of abrasive substances can be routine mining practice, it is important not to let compla- cency allow environmental contamination or put laborers at risk. Some mining operations deal in acidic materials or hazardous chemicals. If the right mechanical seal or sealing option is not used on the pump transporting these materials they could leak and cause dangerous contamination. In dewatering systems, such as a traveler system or a skid, moving belts, rotating pieces of machinery, and open tanks are a safety concern for employees. Mining in volatile conditions must be done with the utmost care. In the case of uranium yellow cake, prevention of leaks and exposure hazards is especially important. Improper seals can allow hazard process fluid to contaminate the atmo- sphere and potentially endanger personnel. When mining in explosive areas the electric components of mining equipment in motors, control panels and VFDs also need to be properly designed to ensure safety. All mined substances must be properly conveyed and not all pipes and pumps are prepared to do the job. The most-used pump in the mining industry is a centrifugal pump, which uses a rotating impeller to move water and other fluids. While this is a convenient way to pump water, fluids containing solids like those encountered in mining operations pose a problem. The mineral slurries and the fluid pumped for dewatering can cause significant wear on the internal workings of the pump, Pump It Up Install Durable, Smart Pumping Systems to Keep Your Operation Running Smoothly. By John Dean

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