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Case Studies

Allied Pumps Helps Overcome Mine Dewatering Challenges

May 2 2019

Mining plays a major role in Australia’s economy. It is big business and with big business comes challenges and lots of them. One of the biggest challenges that can and does impact on the viability and life of the mine is the management of water.

Mining companies are required by environmental authorities to develop Water Management Plans and Water Balance Models that attempt to describe and predict in detail how water will be sourced, diverted, contained and released throughout the life of the mine and following mine closure. Read more.

As you can imagine, one of the biggest challenges is the sheer scale of a single mining operation. It takes considerable time, effort and money to locate the ore fields and determine their long-term viability. Mining companies must then obtain the appropriate permits and licences before construction of the mine site can commence. This construction includes potential processing capacity as well as infrastructure and amenities to support both logistical and operational needs as well the facilities required for the people who will be working on the mine itself.

Then there is the logistics of getting all of this constructed in remote areas that are prone to extreme climate conditions and you can begin to understand that everything that gets used on a mine site needs to be built tough as any sort of delay in schedule or downtime is costly.

Locating ore bodies is both an art and a science, but once they have been discovered the race is on to get as much ore out of the ground as quickly and safely as possible. That said, most if not all ore bodies lie beneath the water table so to get to them means creating dry conditions (which can take upwards of 18 months) so that mining can occur, and that is done by a complicated and lengthy process called Dewatering.

WHAT IS MINE DEWATERING?

Mine dewatering is the process of controlling and managing surface water and groundwater to allow mining to occur in relatively dry conditions which improves geotechnical stability and efficiency of mining operations.

There are two main approaches to groundwater control:

Groundwater control by exclusion: using physical methods to exclude groundwater from the excavation, reducing inflows; and

Groundwater control by pumping: using in-pit pumping or bores to lower groundwater levels.

There are many benefits of dewatering, these include:

  • Improved safety at the mine site
  • More efficient working conditions – reduced downtime due to pit flooding etc
  • Reduced blasting costs: lowering groundwater levels ahead of blasting produces dry holes which do not need the more expensive emulsion explosives
  • Reduced haulage costs – dry ore and waste material weighs less than wet material; and
  • Increased mine production and potential life of mine

As mining takes place below the water table, the pit water control system must deal with the stored groundwater as well as both rainfall and groundwater recharge.

The design of a mine water control system depends on many factors including:

  • Hydrogeological conditions
  • Dewatering requirements
  • Start, duration and rates of pumping at different stages of mining
  • Interaction of pumping infrastructure with mine planning and operations eg., ensuring expensive dewatering trailers are away from blasting zones
  • Availability of drilling and pumping equipment
  • Capital and operating costs; and
  • The production schedule for the life of mine

Needless to say, when it comes to dewatering at operational mine sites, getting the technical understanding right is only half the story. The other key to success is getting the right equipment in place to manage the process, followed by maintaining and operating equipment effectively – and all of this has to be achieved in a constantly evolving mine environment.

The best dewatering system in the world will only be as effective as the way it is operated. If pumps are down for maintenance, refuelling, or damage from mining, they will quickly become limiting factors to success. Furthermore, the system must stay relevant throughout the inevitable changes in mine design that come as a mine moves through the development cycle.

Understanding these factors, Allied Pumps has created a range of Skid and Trailer Mounted Package Bore Headworks for clients. These innovative packages have produced excellent results for clients.

Skid or Trailer Mounted Bore Headworks systems facilitate the efficient and fast installation and removal of pumping infrastructure. The mobile system features a unique plug and play design, minimizing operation down time when removing the trailer from the pit area for blasting and installing the headworks once blasting is completed.

Allied Pumps Bore Headworks Packages encompass our ‘package oriented’ design philosophy, resulting in a time efficient and cost-effective installation. As with all Allied Pumps packaged systems, Our Headworks Packages are meticulously assembled & tested in Western Australia in our controlled and safe ISO9001:2015 certified factory environment, ensuring a fully integrated and operational system is delivered to site.

Moving water; whether it be below or above ground, is an integral part of every mining operation. With more than 30 years’ experience facilitating the industry, Allied Pumps is at the forefront of innovative water management solutions. To discuss your water management needs please contact us today.

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