Steel tube and pipe manufacturer Robor Pipe Systems (RPS) has been contracted to supply the main pump columns for the new Synchlonorium project at Mopani Copper Mines, in Zambia, which is scheduled for completion in April 2014.
“Mopani, the largest copper mine in Zambia, is sinking a $320-million shaft at its Synchlonorium mine, which will significantly boost the mine’s production and extend operations well beyond the current depletion date. RPS recently entered the high-pressure pipe systems market and this is the first major project for the new, dedicated team,” says RPS sales director Deon Kruger.
The company mentions that the pipeline portion of the project consists of three main high-pressure pump columns, with a fourth emergency column. All these columns extend to about 1 200 m below surface and are, therefore, required to handle extremely high pressures.
To complement this system, the RPS high-pressure coupling was specified for the project, which has proven to be the ultimate coupling method for pipe columns in deep-level mines. To ensure that the coupling met all the stringent specifications required for the project, RPS performed a series of strain gauge and pressure rating tests. The coupling passed all the tests and met all the requirements throughout the series of assessments.
“Various trials and tests were per- formed prior to the manufacturing of the couplings. RPS started with a series of strain gauge tests to verify the coupling design code and concluded with a pres- sure test, during which the couplings were subjected to holding pressure of 372 bar. The tests were performed successfully at our premises in Isando, South Africa, and the results were reaffirmed through confirmed sample pressure testing during manufacturing,” Kruger explains.
The biggest challenge when installing such systems is to ensure that quality of product and workmanship is not jeopardised in any way. RPS ensured that there was no quality deviation by allowing three independent quality assurance companies to be involved, from manufacturing of raw material to final supply.
Also, RPS notes that quality and safety were the most important aspects when the project was planned and awarded, which meant that the company had to source the highest-quality material for the project by choosing one of the few dual-accredited seamless producers in the world.
“It is critical that the installation of the coupling is done with great precision to allow for contraction and expansion during temperature fluctuations. RPS provides easy-installation painted strips for each pipe end to guide installation teams during installation. This saves installation teams many hours during a project of this magnitude. The company provides fully approved procedures for installation which are used during training,” highlights Kruger.
As part of the RPS offering, full on-site training was conducted and contractors were trained on the correct installation of the couplings. The company manu- factures and supplies complete pipe solutions for various applications, which include the conveyance of slurry, water, steam and acid. “We can manufacture stub ends, flanged, ring or groove ends for the mining industry and can custom-manufacture special pipes to client specifications,” he adds.
Across its divisions, the Robor group manufactures and supplies a comprehensive range of products and services to the mining industry.
“We can use our expertise to assist with more efficient designs, which could, ultimately, lead to cost savings and quicker project turnaround time. As a solutions-orientated supplier, RPS also offers a vast range of fittings, linings, couplings, jointing systems, and coatings for corrosion and cathodic protection. We are fast becoming the preferred supplier in new mining developments,” Kruger concludes.