Piping solutions successful in tough African mining environment

2nd May 2014

By: Carina Borralho


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As water is a scarce and valuable resource, it is essential for mine owners to effectively manage the flow of water throughout an entire mine site, from frontline raw material processing to infrastructure build, community welfare, water storage, water reuse and mine dewatering processes, says plastic piping systems manufacturer Polypipe.

Polypipe provides constant and efficient water management ser- vices using cost-effective, high- quality pipelines, which is essential to keeping mines operating at optimal efficiency.

“A significant amount of water is used in various aspects of modern mining operations – from extraction and processing to social welfare, where water is made available to mineworkers for drinking purposes,” says Polypipe export sales manager Philip Wood.

Project Scope
Polypipe has been working on various projects in the African mining sector during the past six months.

“New pipes for pressure and nonpressure applications were recently supplied to Canadian gold mining company Banro Corporation’s Namoya gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and to iron-ore developer African Minerals’ Tonkolili and Marampa iron-ore mines, in Sierra Leone,” says Wood.

The company tells Mining Weekly that expanding its presence in Africa is one of its current priorities.

Wood says the Namoya gold belt, in the eastern DRC, is the last known major undeveloped gold belt in Africa, while the Marampa iron-ore mine is located in Lunsar, 125 km by road north-east of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. The two projects have a combined value of almost £2-million.

“In territories where water is in short supply, and with processes that place high demands on water use, effective water management in large-scale mining operations is essential. Mining companies and their contractors need to consider the environmental impact of their operations, which means that effi- cient recycling of the water used in the various mineral extraction processes is vital,” says Wood.

Similarly, the company says that when considering the infrastructure build associated with mining operations, the “effective reuse of water needs to be an integral part of the initial pipework design”.

“Our British-made products are designed to meet current carbon and water challenges and we provide solutions for the total water management process, which involves water capture, treatment and reuse, attenuation and soak- away, as well as drainage for buildings and infrastructure,” he adds.

Wood says British products are renowned for their quality and that all Polypipe products are manufactured in accordance with the most stringent British and European Union standards.

“Although the company is based in the UK, it is an international business supplying water management solutions to construction and mining projects worldwide. Therefore, while our products are manufactured in Britain, they are designed to stand up to heavy-duty applications such as mining applications in Africa,” he says.

In-House Capability

Polypipe’s accredited in-house testing facility in Britain can replicate all types of climate and weather and the company can, in conjunction with the facility’s extensive modelling capability, ensure that products are suitable for their intended destination. “Customers can be assured that they will receive a product of the highest quality, durable and fit for purpose,” claims Wood.

“Polypipe manufactures and exports piping systems worldwide. Mining contractors have identified our fast turnaround times and close business relationships with shipping companies as key factors in their decision to install Polypipe products,” he adds.

Woods further notes that, while people might assume that the product is more expensive because it is manufactured in Britain, this is not the case. He adds that Polypipe is competitive with local alternatives and its products are easy to install, have been proven to perform without failure and are guaranteed to be delivered to customer specification.

Remote-Site Capability

Polypipe says that as some mining environments are located in remote regions, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest town, the company identifies these as difficult mining conditions.

“The terrain is often rugged and pipelines must be made of a sufficient substance and quality to withstand these conditions and extreme temperatures, as well as the acids and chemicals used in extraction and processing,” says Wood, highlighting that the impact- and corrosion-resistant qualities of Polypipe's piping systems make them the ideal choice for remote locations.

Meanwhile, Polypipe has received positive feedback from some clients operating in these mining conditions. “Repeat orders tell us a lot in terms of customer service, product quality, trouble-free installation and cost effectiveness,” says Wood.

The company is currently finalising a contract to supply a second shipment of pipes to a gold mine in Sierra Leone.

Product Overview

One of the key product systems that Polypipe can offer the mining sector is its PE100, a high-pressure polyethylene pipe system that has been used in some of the toughest mining environments, in applications such as recirculation pipelines for heap-leaching operations, solution mining, and process slurry pipelines.

The chemical and corrosion-resistant PE100 system can deal with harsh materials – from abrasive slurries to corrosive acids, bases and salts.  It has hydraulic properties that enable large volumes of liquid to be carried at high flow rates and will resist scaling, biological build-up and damage through thermal shock. Pipes and fittings can be jointed to the system using electrofusion or butt-welding techniques to form a continuous homogenous pipeline, which affords no chance of leakage.

The company says that PE100 pressure pipes, along with Polypipe's Ridgidrain high-density polyethylene (HDPE) twinwall pipe systems for nonpressure applications, are not new to the market, and their properties make them ideal for the rigorous demands of mining.

“Compared with traditionally used piping materials, HDPE pipes are lighter, easier to transport to remote locations and are resistant to abrasion, chemical corrosion and thermal shock,” says Wood.

He adds that the company offers the flexibility to design piping systems around obstacles like rocks or tailings ponds. The systems are also supplied in longer lengths, which means that fewer joints are required, and there is less opportunity for leakage; and they are easier to handle, which reduces health and safety risks.

Edited by Samantha Herbst
Creamer Media Deputy Editor



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