An 840-m-long, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipeline was installed in October last year to transport corrosive tailings to a tailings dam at the ore beneficiation plant located close to the underground Morula chrome mine – owned by ferrochrome company Hernic – in Brits, in the North West.
Industrial plastic piping company Plasti-Tech managing member Brad Chamont says the pipeline was installed within the allotted ten days without going over the budget set out by Hernic to the contractor JDC.
The pipeline was installed by JDC, while the HDPE pipes were supplied by Plasti-Tech. HDPE pipes were chosen for their resistance to corrosive tailings. Chamont says the HDPE pipeline comprises 140 pipes of 6 m each, which are connected with stub and flanged ends, allowing for broken or blocked pipes to be replaced without requiring welding.
Chamont highlights that the HDPE pipes usually last up to 50 years when used to transfer potable water. However, despite HDPE being more resistant than steel or concrete pipes, with the tailings from the tailings plant being corrosive, it is difficult to determine how long the pipes will last, he says. Further, the pipes that Plasti-Tech provided are SANS 4427- approved.
“All the pipes that we resell carry the mark of the South African Plastic Pipes Manufacturers Association. The pipes are also South African Bureau of Standards-approved and all of the fittings meet international standards,” he explains.
He points out that the project was completed within four to five weeks from when the first quotation for the pipes was provided to JDC.
Chamont highlights that the HDPE pipes have a standard dimension ratio of nine, with the pipes being PN20 piping; finding a pipe manufacturer was, therefore, a challenge for the company, as HDPE pipes of these specifications are not normally stocked by pipe manufacturers.
“We did manage to find a supplier, but had to transport the pipes to the mine every day as they were being made. Therefore, whatever our suppliers were able to produce every day, we supplied to the project.”
He concludes that Plasti-Tech imports and distributes HDPE pipes, fittings and welding equipment in accordance with local and international standards. “We offer our clients peace of mind through product quality guarantees and exceptional service levels.”