The mining industry is Australia’s prime driver of export growth, says pumps and pressure cleaners manufacturer Australian Pump Industries, commonly known as Aussie Pumps.
The company, based in Castle Hill, New South Wales, notes that Australia’s economy is forecast to grow at 2.8% this year; the driver being the aspirational non-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries to the north of Australia, which are projecting economic growth of between 5.9% and 6.8% from 2017 to 2018.
Australia’s resources industry is forecast to earn A$205-billion from resource and energy exports in 2016/17, but will decline to A$202-billion in 2017/18, and to A$200-billion in 2018/19, according to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s Resources and Energy Quarterly, published in June.
Price spikes in metallurgical coal and iron-ore in 2016/17 were aided by capacity cuts in coal, a resurgence of China’s steel sector and temporary supply disruptions.
However, global resource and energy commodity demand growth, particularly for steelmaking commodities, is expected to slow in the next two years, driven largely by a slowdown in infrastructure spending and construction activity in China, says Depart- ment of Industry, Innovation and Science chief economist Mark Cully.
Nonetheless, Aussie Pumps MD Warwick Lorenz points out that “Australia’s mining and agricultural markets, largely export-driven by South-East Asia, have been fertile ground for the development of great mining equipment”, adding that the company is focused on developing specialised products for the mining industry.
In the areas in which the company operates, supplying self-priming centrifugal trash pumps and big pressure cleaners, it holds about 25% of the market, with most of its mining products being used in Australia, notes Lorenz.
Aussie Pumps satisfies the requirements of the Australian mining industry through a range of regionally located dealers.
“Some of our biggest contracts entail the employment of diesel- engine-drive water pumps for a tanker fleet for servicing the Santos gasfields, in central Australia. Santos is one of Australia’s leading natural gas providers,” highlights Lorenz.
He adds that Aussie Pumps has had much success with its heavy-duty trash pumps, designed for the most severe service applications. The range extends from small 2"
diesel- drive units to 6" pumps with flows of up to 6 000 ℓ/min.
Owing to the pump’s design, it can handle solids in suspension without incurring damage to its internal components.
The self-priming pump also includes a front clean-out port below the suction line to allow for blockages to be easily cleared. This action can be carried out without dismantling pipework, which is an advantage over conventional pump designs, says Lorenz.
Challenges in Australia
Lorenz says Australia is being swamped with equipment from manufacturers in South-East Asia, which is often counterfeit, copying American, European and Japanese designs, and does not comply with the same quality standards as the original-equipment manufacturers.
Using this equipment often leads to more downtime at mines, owing to increased maintenance or replacement of products because they cannot withstand the extreme temperatures, and dusty and wet operating conditions.
Australia has tough occupational health and safety rules, and a site culture that is aimed at preventing injury to mine- workers, emphasises Lorenz.
To ensure that Aussie Pumps’ products meet these demands, the company, trading since 1993, has learned that sending commercial-grade products into the mining environment “is asking for trouble”, as these products do not stand up to the harsh operating environment.
Operators are often not gentle when moving a 4" or 6" trash pump, a big pressure cleaner or a dewatering pump, which entails towing, dragging, picking up and carrying the equipment to a new location using an excavator or crawl tractor. Therefore, Aussie Pumps ensures its products have robust and durable designs.
Lorenz highlights that Aussie Pumps supplies heavy-duty trash pumps for an oil and gas project in northern Kenya, run by a globally active LSE-listed Irish mining contractor.
“The project is ongoing and, last month, we shipped heavy-duty trash pumps to them for the extremely tough applications and conditions they face.”
The company has also supplied 3" trash pumps to a mine in Mauritania, and big pressure cleaners and steam cleaners to a mine in Egypt. A range of Aussie Pumps’ products, such as self-priming centrifu- gal pumps, including those used for the high flow of diesel fuel – often a necessity at mining sites – are being used at mining operations in Kenya and Ghana.
The company offers mine-specified equipment, including pressure cleaners of up to 500 bar, transfer pumps and mine-safe fire pumps.