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Dewatering needs proactive management

HOME-GROWN Integrated Pump Rental also has its own in-house engineered and built dredge called the SlurrySucker which is specialised for the cleaning of lined process water ponds or dams

For surface mining operations, dewatering pits is a critical component and proactive management should be prioritised to ensure cost effectiveness and maximum efficiencies, says equipment rental agency Integrated Pump Rental rental development manager Steve du Toit.

Discussing the integral role that pumps and associated holistic solutions play in the dewatering process, Du Toit tells Mining Weekly that, often, dewatering becomes a priority in a breakdown setting when flooding occurs.

This could lead to escalating costs, halted operations, incorrect pump choices and a quick-fix, one-size-fits-all approach.

There is a need to fully understand the specific dewatering application requirements and equipment, as well as to identify the high-risk scenarios, of a site to manage dewatering operations effectively and efficiently, prevent flooding and avoid breakdowns.

A common mistake following a breakdown is the installation of oversized pumps, says Du Toit.

Despite the perception that a larger pump will prevent future flooding, it is not always the best choice, as it could lead to higher fuel consumption, increased energy costs, the bursting of discharge lines and high carbon emissions.

“It is a big responsibility to keep the water levels under control and once there has been flooding at a mine, the tendency is to opt for a large pump to prevent future flooding, believing that the biggest pump will be best for it, and that is not always the case.

“Effective and efficient pump solutions are about using certain materials in specific applications or using smaller pumps in applications where many think a bigger pump should be used,” Du Toit explains, noting the need for a fit-for-purpose solution.

Further, as not all dewatering applications are the same, a one-size-fits-all approach is not practical or cost efficient.

It is a complete system, not just a pump replacement, he comments.

“There might be a situation where the water condition differs from the previous mine.”

Although the pump would have worked perfectly in the previous setting, a ‘cut and paste’ to a different site with water-quality changes could negatively impact on the lifetime of that operation, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of that pump.

A holistic approach to the entire application, including water, pipeline, existing infrastructure and equipment, potential new equipment, the geography of the site, maintenance plans and schedule services, the material being pumped and the quality of the fuel being used, assists Integrated Pump Rental in providing a comprehensive solution.

“Everything determines the selection of the most appropriate pump. Integrated Pump Rental, as a partner, can assist by considering all those factors and providing a solution to guarantee the quality and the efficiency of the equipment,” Du Toit declares.

He adds that the Integrated Pump Rental team has extensive experience in providing solutions for challenging dewatering applications, with hands-on expertise available to assist with any fit-for-purpose pump solution or application.

The company, with its strong focus on dewatering, dredging and slurry transfer processes, boasts a market-ready range of dewatering solutions, including diesel-driven Sykes trailer- or skid-mounted dewatering pumping units and the Grindex range of electrical submersible dewatering and slurry pumps.

Integrated Pump Rental also has its own in-house engineered and built dredge called the SlurrySucker which is specialised, for the cleaning of lined process water ponds or dams.

The company’s narrow focus enables it to specialise using solutions specific to individual site applications and conditions.

In cases where the company does not necessarily provide the equipment, it offers advice on how to best move forward.

“I think [our approach] has put us in a very good space to grow,” Du Toit adds.

Meanwhile, clients have the option of renting or buying equipment.

Integrated Pump Rental offers rental solutions to assist with cost reduction while increasing operational availability.

“There is a place in the market for renting and buying, with each site and each application showing whether it is more efficient to rent for a couple of days or to buy because it would be a long-term application,” he concludes.