Tag Archives: Multiflo

Weir Minerals Africa provides tailings management flexibility with mobile pumphouses

Weir Minerals Africa says its mobile pumphouse is ideally equipped for the needs of mine tailings operations.

As the company explains, pumping slurry to tailings facilities requires a solution that can move as the dam expands to allocate room for additional tailings.

Weir Minerals Africa Pumps Product Manager, Marnus Koorts, says a mobile pumphouse completely avoids the cost of any civil engineering for permanent on-site pump buildings. “Instead, it is designed to be moved as required across the site, using its own specifically engineered, skid and jack-and-roll elements,” he said.

Koorts says the offering is part of Weir Minerals Africa’s engineered-to-order solutions, which also reduces the long-term total cost of ownership. The three-point Warman® Multiflo® pump mounting system allows the base and skid to act independently. This minimises the risk of misalignment between the pump and motor shaft during operation and relocation. The unit incorporates an integral gland water supply system and a separate electronic house for power control and remote communication.

Koorts highlights that as a mine’s process plant matures, the tailings line grows with new tailings dams being created, often using Linatex hoses and Isogate valves. It is a significant advantage to be able to move the pumphouse, and to add pumps to the tailings line if the increased distance requires more pressure. It is also an important contributor to reducing initial capital costs.

The design of the mobile pumphouse, he emphasises, sets a new standard for tailings management applications, providing the customer with the tools and equipment to rapidly reconfigure their pumping network, with the ability to move it to other sections of the tailings pond.

Weir Minerals solutions include Multiflo pump barges and floating pontoons mounted with Warman SHW submersible slurry pumps for extracting the fluid tailings. Its Warman slurry pumps are ideal for boosting recovered tails from the pond, to drive the new tailings treatment process plant, the company says.

Koorts emphasises that, with increased scrutiny and pressure to improve the management of tailings, it is more important than ever to look at different methods that are innovative and fit-for-purpose.

Weir Minerals mobilises team to take on tailings treatment challenge

Water requirements for intensive applications such as hard-rock mining and oil sands processing have historically been supplemented by local water sources. Today, these applications face new challenges as the focus shifts to how operations can minimise their environmental footprint but continue to improve productivity while also complying with new regulations. This global shift in focus reveals the need for increased sustainability in tailings processing, Weir Minerals says.

The way forward is not only installing energy-efficient products that offer improved reliability, but also working directly in partnership with companies such as Weir Minerals that can design engineered-to-order solutions tailored for optimised and sustainable results, the mining OEM explains.

One of the ongoing challenges for customers is tailings reclamation. The question of how best to reduce dependence on tailings ponds yet expedite reclamation of both water and product in the process, was top of mind for one Weir Minerals customer.

Pumping stations are a critical element of tailings management, providing the energy needed to drive the downstream processes. Static slurry pump houses have, until now, been the norm, but they are costly and present many limitations when considering alternate tailings processing techniques.

A new approach to tailings reclamation

When the customer approached the Weir Minerals Canada dewatering team with a vision to mobilise the pump system for their new tailings treatment process, initially they didn’t even know if it was even possible.

“The sheer size and energy requirements of the equipment needed for the application meant that this was a huge undertaking from the beginning. You don’t normally think of 3,500 hp (2,610 kW) pumps and 160 t of equipment as mobile,” Kris Kielar, Product Manager for Dewatering Engineered to Order Solutions at Weir Minerals Canada, explains.

The Weir Minerals team worked directly with the customer to design an innovative booster pumphouse, engineered especially to manage the non-segregating tailings on site. The proposed solution played an integral role in reducing the tailings pond footprint on site through accelerated fines capture and decreased fluid tailings production, thus releasing more water for recycling and reducing necessary water intake from local sources. This, in turn, would expedite reclamation to create landforms that support wetlands and self-sustaining forest ecosystems, according to Weir Minerals.

The standard tailings processing model takes time, but this solution dramatically reduced tailings residence time with a total solution realised through Weir Minerals equipment, it said.

Multiflo® pump barges mounted with Hazleton® submersible slurry pumps extract the target fluid tailings that feed high-powered, land-based Weir re-locatable pump houses. Inside the pump houses, Warman® slurry pumps boost recovered tails from the pond to drive the new tailings treatment process plant.

Kielar continued: “By working directly with the customer, we understood not only their desired outcome, but also the existing capabilities on site. We stayed close and were able to proactively tweak our design based on the customer’s needs, so when it was time to present, we were already prepared with the ideal solution.”

Engineering for extra value

The Weir Minerals dewatering team designs solutions using engineered and reliable equipment that is not just efficient, but also adds value to a customer’s site process, it says.

“For example, the entire module of the Weir mobile pump house can be built offsite at a much lower cost than traditional pump houses, which are built in-situ,” Weir Minerals said. “Building a pump house in-situ is time-consuming and expensive, as the method requires skilled trades to work for extended periods of time in remote locations.”

Peter Pavlin, Weir Minerals’ North America General Manager of Engineering, said: “Competitor pump houses built using in-situ construction methods can more than double the construction time and costs compared to the steel fabrication methods we have used. When faced with a complex problem from a customer, we always evaluate the situation holistically and strive to develop a new approach. That is the beauty of engineering, the possibilities are endless, and the Weir Engineering Team have the expertise and tenacity to go against the norm and develop novel and cost-effective solutions.”

The Weir mobile pump house provides a variety of pumping possibilities for intensive tailings applications, according to the company.

It is designed to relocate across the site using especially engineered, military-style skid and ‘jack-and-roll’ elements and a novel patent-pending pump/motor suspension system, providing a unique advantage in mobile pump house technology. These advances provide operators with distinct advantages over traditional fixed-in-place designs, creating a more agile and cost-effective solution, according to Weir Minerals.

Pavlin explained: “Our ground-breaking design sets a new standard for tailings management applications. Other pump houses in the market are static and often cause difficulties for operators when they wish to expand into new areas, as they must discontinue service, resulting in a large capital expenditure. Our solution has overcome these limitations by providing the customer with the tools to rapidly reconfigure a changing pumping network and move it to other sections of the tailings pond.”

The Weir mobile pump house incorporates an integral gland water supply system and a separate eHouse for power control and remote communication. A patent-pending, three-point pump base mounting system allows the base and skid to act independently, minimising the risk of pump and motor shaft misalignment during operation and the relocation process, according to Weir.

Weir Minerals continues to go with the Multiflo in barge applications

Even with 40 years of custom barge solution expertise under its belt, Weir Minerals says it is continuing to innovate with new designs for applications in oil sands, tailings management and tropical and cold climates.

Developed over the decades, the Weir Minerals range of Multiflo® barges provides a solution for numerous applications, according to the company.

Water reclamation for oil sands market

Reclaim water barges are an integral part of tailings management solutions in oil sands applications, where tailings contain high percentages of water that can be recycled back through the process plant.

Upon identifying the need for reliable systems which were easy to manage and maintain, Weir Minerals developed its mega-barge exclusively for the oil sands market. This all in one package includes pumps, valves, hoses, and piping.

“This is where our turnkey value proposition really took off,” Kris Kielar, Product Manager for engineered-to-order dewatering products at Weir Minerals Canada, explains. “Our largest barge system includes a fully integrated electrical control houses that powers 9,000 hp (6,711 kW) worth of pumps, overhead cranes, remote monitoring and control, and the longest floated walkway we’ve ever provided, with ‘warm-up’ stations every 150 m for one kilometre.”

Mega-barges are the ideal solution for unique applications, such as the scale of water reclaim needed at some of the world’s largest oil sands operations, according to Weir Minerals.

“A typical oil sands operation requires nine barrels of water per barrel of bitumen produced,” continues Kielar, “so the more water that can be reclaimed, the better. The larger the operation, the bigger the water saving potential.”

In addition to the mega-barges for the oil sands market, Weir Minerals also developed modular barge packages as a fully customisable solution for ease of shipment, and a reduction in both capital costs and onsite installation costs. The introduction of both static and mobile, land-based, booster stations and pumphouses further expands the Multiflo barge solution capability while maintaining a single point of contact for customers, the company says.

Tailings management

The need for custom barge solutions for tailings management has increased in recent years. Where previously dewatering pumps in tailings applications were “set-and-forget”, the increased focus on tailings dam safety has shined a new spotlight on barge solutions that can provide heavy-duty, reliable pumping, Weir Minerals said.

Not only must sites revisit current arrangements to consider how their tailings will be handled in the future, they also need to empty the old dams decommissioned by environmental and mining authorities, the company said.

Ricardo Menezes, Barge Systems Specialist at Weir Minerals Brazil, said: “We are equipped to provide the entire solution. From initial consultation and design, to manufacturing, commission, and training and supervision of site operators. We work hard to bring our customers the best possible solution for their site, and we do it all under one roof.”

These all-in-one Multiflo packages eliminate the headache of integrating civil construction, electrical control rooms, control systems, pipes, cables, and mechanical and electrical works, according to the company. Weir Minerals engineer these dewatering barges in-house and employ naval engineering consultants to create tailored solutions for its customers.

Menezes continues: “Sites are being asked to transport tailings on a larger scale than before. An off-the-shelf solution might not work with their existing site infrastructure and that is where our fluid transport expertise comes in.”

Reliability in any situation

Applications in tropical environments, which experience heavy and sometimes unexpected rainfall, often require barge-mounted dewatering pumps to handle the rapidly rising water levels.

Multiflo land-based barges are built to float, protecting the pump unit from being flooded as often happens with a traditional skid pump unit, Weir Minerals says.

These land-based barges are fitted with integrated skid runners that allow them to be towed around mine sites and launched or retrieved with the use of dozers or excavators. The integrated skid runners also provide the added benefit of using the barge as a skid pump operating at the pond edge with easy land access for operators and servicing, the company says.

Marnus Koorts, Product Manager for dewatering pumps at Weir Minerals South Africa, says the company gets very specific requests for these land-based barges.

“We recently completed a project for a customer experiencing regular high wind speeds and tropical storms,” he said. “We needed to account for wave action and wind loading to ensure our solution would minimise risk of structural damage during these storms.”

Other considerations such as water quality, where pH can range from very low through to high, and water content, such as high percentages of suspended solids and floating debris, are also key to maintaining dewatering equipment on site, according to the company.

“Multiflo barges maximise reliability through innovative protection systems chosen specifically for the environment that the barge will operate in,” Weir Minerals says.

For one customer in South Africa, the Weir Minerals team needed to account for more than just water, according to Koorts.

“One of the design requirements for this particular installation was for the handrails and other structures to be engineered to prevent crocodiles from gaining access to the deck space.”

Dewatering in cold climates

In the last year, Weir Minerals barge specialists from Canada have been working with teams in Russia and Finland, to establish a European centre of expertise specifically for dewatering barges in cold-climate applications. Key environmental factors such as wind, snow and seismic loading can affect the buoyancy and stability of the barges, which they looked to address.

“We’re building on the work of the North and South American teams,” Artem Filippov, Dewatering Product Manager at Weir Minerals Russia, said. “Working together and using insights gained from their years of experience have allowed us to create unique barge dewatering systems for our European customers.”

Weir Minerals’ cold-climate expertise comes from experience in floating barge systems at temperatures below -45°C, de-icing systems and winter barge access systems. In addition, Multiflo barge systems are fully marine naval certified under all weather conditions and are marine architect certified, the company says.

Weir Minerals Pumped Up by new dewatering game for miners

Weir Minerals says it has created a “fun and simple game” to educate its customers on the OEM’s dewatering capabilities.

Pumped Up! uses a variety of Weir Minerals dewatering equipment to move water around a fictional mine site, according to Ian Ross, Global Product Manager for Dewatering at Weir Minerals.

Each of the 10 levels present players with a different dewatering obstacle to overcome, from recycling, to flooding, to underground mines and long distance pump requirements. Levels increase in difficulty, and the number of points awarded is determined by how long each level takes to complete.

Products included as part of Weir Minerals’ dewatering solution in Pumped Up! include Warman®, Geho®, Floway®, and Multiflo® pumps as well as Isogate® and Delta® valves, and Linatex® hoses.

The game was released as part of Weir Minerals’ 2019 Take Control Of Your Water dewatering solutions campaign. Through articles, expert profiles, and case studies, the campaign demonstrates how Weir Minerals use its engineering and project management capabilities, together with a wide range of equipment, to deliver an optimised dewatering solution unique to every customer site, the company said.

Head to www.dewateringsolutions.weir to play the game.

Weir to expand tailings dewatering offering with new ‘innovative’ solution

As the Global Tailings Review prepares to issue a new industry standard in 2020, Weir Minerals has chosen now to examine the subject of dewatering tailings.

The company, already offering solutions to help dewater tailings, says it is developing an “innovative tailings dewatering solution” to allow operators to pump slurry containing an extremely high percentage of solids. It says it plans to launch the new technology in 2020.

Mike Swintak, Regional Senior Product Manager for Weir Minerals, said dewatering tailings can be a difficult process, yet, when undertaken successfully, “it can deliver significant benefits to mine operators”.

The foremost benefit of dewatering tailings is the reduction of water that needs to be transported from a process plant to a tailings storage facility (TSF).

Reduced water content means tailings slurry volume is decreased, allowing for smaller pipelines and pumping equipment to be used. This can also minimise power requirements.

Thickened tailings and paste can improve the stability of TSFs and diminish their footprint. In some instances where existing TSF capacities are limited by regulatory or other environmental considerations, thickened tailings can help to extend the life of the mine, Weir says.

“Proper containment of tailings reduces the risk to people and the environment, and when decommissioning a mine, thickened tailings facilities are easier to rehabilitate,” the company added.

To a growing extent, thickened tailings are also used for underground mine backfill. This can increase productivity and reduce mine cycle times as well as surface TSF disposal volumes. Underground mining conditions can also be improved due to decreased water and slimes handling.

Important considerations and challenges

“When tailings are not properly managed, the results can be lethal. It is vital that mine operators have a clear understanding of key risks and considerations related to this process, in particular, tailings dewatering,” Swintak said.

Every mine site is different and subject to varying environmental, regulatory, capital and operating cost constraints.

Cost is a key consideration for many operators and can adversely affect the viability of a mine site, according to Weir. Therefore, it is necessary to implement a tailings management strategy that provides both reliability and value for money.

“Environmental limitations are also a major factor when establishing a TSF,” Weir says. “In parts of the world where there is challenging topography, such as mountainous regions or other environmentally sensitive landscapes, TSFs may need to be built further away from the process plant. This can result in slurry being transported across longer distances or higher elevations. Dewatering of tailings is a viable option in these scenarios as less slurry needs to be moved, in turn reducing operational costs.”

Some operations produce highly diluted tailings that require extensive dewatering to reach the desired level of thickness. Other slurries may contain extremely fine particle solids that are also difficult to manage. Large mine sites, or those with complex orebodies, can produce many types of tailings waste slurries, which may require varying methods of treatment.

“Across this multitude of situations, the operator must determine all associated costs and assess the level of dewatering required to confirm the most suitable solution for their site,” Weir says.

“While some mines are in a position to increase the size of their TSFs, many are not, and must implement a viable dewatering process, which can involve significant capital expenditure.”

If dewatering tailings to the highest possible degree, operators also need to develop a suitable strategy for transporting the waste material. Tailings that are too thick to be pumped may need to be transported by either a conveyor system or truck.

Finally, when a mine site reaches the end of its life and moves into the decommissioning phase, TSFs must be dealt with in accordance with regulatory and legislative requirements. As many mine sites need to be rehabilitated and restored to a natural state, a key benefit of producing thickened tailings is its ability to be covered with overburden and re-planted with suitable vegetation.

Weir Minerals offering

“Weir Minerals realises dewatering tailings can be a daunting process for many operators,” it says. “In order to provide the highest level of support and service, the company has invested heavily in its tailings management capabilities. More than just a supplier, every mine site is assessed on a case by case basis to provide a complete tailings dewatering system customised to the customer’s applications and constraints.”

Swintak added: “From developing flow sheets and process requirements to supplying equipment including dewatering systems incorporating our Isodry thickeners and filters, Multiflo floating and mobile pump systems for use on tailings ponds, or GEHO positive displacement pumps capable of transporting high density slurries up to 200 km, we provide customers with peace of mind through our tailings solutions.”

A key point of difference, according to Weir, is the intensive pilot plant testing Weir Minerals can perform at the Weir Technical Centre in Australia. This facility is designed to test tailings samples from around the world to help ascertain the best way to process them in line with the customer’s requirements. Testing is conducted using thickeners/clarifiers, hydrocyclones, filters and centrifuges, as well as a comprehensive pipe loop facility for determining high density slurry pipeline design.

Weir Minerals can also conduct testing at customer mine sites to assess the viability of various tailings management strategies.

As the mining industry gains a better understanding of tailings, it is vital new and improved methods of containment and storage are developed.

“Weir Minerals believes that the dewatering of tailings has a fundamental role to play in this, and continues to push the boundaries of possibility,” it said.

Weir Minerals Africa’s expertise pays off for Rio mineral sands mine in Madagascar

Weir Minerals Africa has come to the rescue of Rio Tinto’s QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) operation, providing the mineral sands miner with a solution to its recurring process pond challenge.

According to Weir Minerals Africa’s Dewatering Product Specialist Neil Matthews, the mine was experiencing continual collapse of the 20 m suction hose to the Warman® AH® 12/10 pump mounted on a skid at the back of the process pond. This resulted in the need to keep priming the pump and, therefore, regular downtime.

“Unpacking the issues facing the customer was the first part of upgrading the mine’s process water utilisation,” said Matthews. “We discussed several options with the customer after which our dewatering and engineering teams collaborated closely to design a solution. It was vital to carefully consider the problem in the context of the geographic and site conditions, as well as the local fauna and flora.”

To provide the most suitable Weir Minerals products and solutions, the team specified a Warman® AH® 10/8 pump mounted on a Multiflo® pontoon (pictured) with the pump coupled to a variable frequency drive facilitating greater flexibility in dealing with varying site conditions. A second pontoon was fitted with a Warman® AH® 6/4 pump with motor and fixed speed drive as design conditions should remain constant throughout the life of mine.

Both pontoons are connected to a floating docking station which is, in turn, connected to a 20 m walkway fixed to the bank-side landing.

“It is standard practice in most of our pontoon designs to mount the pump sets at 30° to submerge the suction eye of the impeller, thereby ensuring consistent priming,” Matthews says.

One of the most important factors affecting the solution was Madagascar’s weather conditions, according to Weir. This includes regular tropical storms and high wind speeds, which have the effect of creating wave action and wind loading on the pond during storms. The pontoon solution had to accommodate this.

To address the wave action and minimise possible structural damage, the fixed walkway was designed to incorporate a pivot system on the bank landing structure. This allowed the entire assembly, including the docking station, to rotate 90° and still be tied down to the shore during these storms.

Matthews said: “Madagascar is also known for its varied wildlife, including crocodiles, so the design of the handrails and other structures needed to prevent crocodiles from gaining access to the deck space.”

These reptiles would tend to climb onto the deck to bask in the sun, making it almost impossible for staff to conduct routine maintenance. Restricting this access was achieved by closing all the gaps between the handrails and the separate structures.

“Our design took all the site conditions into account, making for better and more predictable operational reliability,” Matthews said. “Both the pontoons and the pumps can now be easily moved for servicing or for securing during bad weather.”

He highlights that Weir Minerals Africa’s team’s experience with mounting pump sets onto pontoons and its extensive process-related knowledge played a significant role in developing the product offering for the customer.

“It was also important for the design engineers to be present during the commissioning process to ensure support,” Matthews concluded.