As one of the leading pump manufacturers in India, we receive plenty of queries from clients across sectors. When a client from the mining sector asks us that they need a pump for their mining application…
The first question we ask is, “What type of mine is it? Is it an underground mine, a dredging operation, or a surface mine?” The next question we ask is, “What kind of pump do you need – is it a slurry pump, a submersible pump, a dewatering pump, a metering pump or a booster pump?” A mining site has multiple pump applications, and choosing the right one depends on several factors.
The pumps used in your mining operation play a crucial role in the overall mining operation. Sudden pump failures could lead to unplanned downtime, leading to revenue lost in just a few hours. While choosing pumps for a mining application, you need to look for reliable pumps capable of operating non-stop in extreme conditions. Furthermore, mining operations need to focus on maximising equipment longevity to increase ROI and meet production goals.
Broadly speaking, vertical turbine pumps are considered as the workhorse machines of mining applications. Matching the right pump to the mining job requires consideration of several factors like:
The environment in which the pump is operating
The role of the pump in the overall system design
Type of pumping job
Specific design features of the pump
Finding the right pump that fits all these criteria helps in ensuring pump longevity. Here are the three factors to consider:
1. A Suitable Match – Material Compatibility
The first factor to consider is material compatibility. You need to look for pumps constructed with durable materials that don’t corrode quickly. Look for pumps that are corrosion-free despite being in constant contact with the ore being mined and other chemicals in the mining process.
Whether you’re transporting water with low pH or other fluids that are highly aggressive, then you need to pay special attention to the material used for pump construction. Remember that a higher initial price for non-corrosive metals is justified by the longer pump duration.
To give an example, a stainless steel pump may cost a bit more initially. However, the initial cost is justified. It can withstand corrosion, high temperature, and pressure, even if the pump is placed in a deep well. Other metals like bronze, cast iron, carbon steel, and alloy steel are corrosion-resistant depending on the type of application.
2. Design Features – Look for Ruggedness
Besides the material of the pump, design features play a crucial role in maximising pump life. For example, pumps with mechanical shaft seals eliminate product leakage around the pump shaft, reducing repairs and downtime.
While choosing a pump for your mining application, you need to consider the types of fluids pumped and the sediments that pass through the pump. Look for a pump model that can handle typical sediments like sand concentrations, fine rocks, etc. To prevent clogging and improve pump efficiency, the pump manufacturers publish a sphere size for each pump. This is the maximum circumference of sediment that can pass through the pump passageways and impellers. When selecting a pump, consider the sphere size with the expected residues in your mining application. This helps you choose a pump that can effectively handle all common sediments without clogging.
Another feature to look out for is rifle drilling of the shaft. It helps in keeping your bearings protected from abrasives and prevents harmful particulates from entering the pump. Many mine operators are upgrading their existing pump machinery by retrofitting them with VFDs (Variable Frequency Drives).
A VFD can increase a turbine pump’s life expectancy by speeding up or slowing down the pump, depending on demand. VFDs are cost-effective, reliable, and robust, helping pumps operate efficiently and smoothly, depending on fluctuations.
3. Routine Maintenance
The longevity of your mining pumps depends on proper and timely maintenance. Some market studies reveal that unplanned downtime costs 10x times more than planned downtimes like predictive maintenance.
By tracking your pump’s parameters in a CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System), you can monitor vital information about your pump’s performance. If you notice that a pump has frequent downtime and excessive work orders, then the pump is not the right choice for your application.
Additionally, you can also consider opting for predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance ensures that maintenance tasks are carried out routinely at the correct time – neither too late nor too early, thereby avoiding unplanned downtime.
Remote monitoring is another technology that helps pump operators monitor the status of your pumps remotely. With remote monitoring, you can cut down the costs of sending technicians into dangerous areas to check equipment status.
The Bottom Line: Consider Better Quality Pumps and Long Term ROI
While choosing pumps for mining applications, it’s essential to consider the initial price of the equipment and calculate the lifetime cost of repairs, operation, and maintenance. Make sure to consider the three factors listed here to maximize the life of mining pumps. For the best quality mining pumps, get in touch with Sintech, the leading pump manufacturer in India. Our friendly and efficient sales team can help you find the best pump for your specific needs.