Mines need to partner with suppliers who can support pumps through the full life cycle of the mine. “As a market leader with more than 80 years of experience in providing slurry transportation systems, Weir Minerals is well positioned to supply and support appropriate pumps solutions,” says Weir Minerals Africa slurry pumps product manager Marnus Koorts.
“Over the life of a mine and its process plant, slurry transportation needs will change and it is important that mines have access to the correct level of applications knowledge and technical support to ensure that the lowest total cost of ownership is maintained,” he adds.
Koorts explains that for greenfield operations pumps are normally sized and selected in accordance with the proposed design parameters. “Our skilled technical personnel collaborate with engineers during the design stage of a new project to optimise the proposed pump installations.
“A wealth of technical expertise goes into the various design phases at the beginning of such a project. This could include specific input such as the recommendation of special materials of construction that will enable the required hydraulic performance. Our focus is always on supplying the right pump for the given application,” he says.
Weir Minerals expends a significant amount on development and continuous product improvement. Three main aspects considered in the engineering of its Warman, Multiflo and GEHO pumps are energy efficiency, optimisation of hydraulic performance and ease of maintenance.
Koorts explains that energy efficiency is often overlooked during pump selection. “Pumps contribute significantly to energy consumption and when an incorrect pump is specified, this will result in sub-optimal pump performance with the associated increase in operating costs and subsequent decrease in the mine’s bottom line.”
Importantly, he points out, during mining operation process changes occur. Increasing throughput is common as well as changes in the ore grades as the mine ages. These changes often result in pumps, originally specified at the project start, no longer running within their design parameters. This can impact pump performance with a knock-on effect on production for the plant.
Weir Minerals technical team maintain close contact with customers throughout Africa, and this is underpinned through its extensive branch network providing customers with access to technical assistance as well as other services.
“Among the services offered are plant audits which are aimed at identifying areas of concern enabling the introduction of technically competent solutions. This could even involve our pump trials department, which allows the introduction of newer technologies to customer operations so they can experience the benefits our new technology pumps will provide. This includes improved pumping performance and slurry transportation,” Koorts says.
Weir’s extensive branch network also ensures availability of pump parts on the customer’s doorstep, further contributing to optimum uptime.
“We have arguably one of the largest pump spare parts stockholdings on the continent, which allows us a rapid response to our customers’ needs.”
In addition, many customers make use of the Weir Minerals Africa consignment agreement solution. Koorts says this allows the mine to keep its stock at the Weir Minerals branch warehouse on a pay-as-you-use basis.
“Our partnership approach with customers enables us to support our pumps through the life cycle of the mine, and by doing this, we contribute to low operating costs on the mine,” Koorts concludes.