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Case Studies

Olympic Dam Water Supply Infrastructure

June 2, 2016


Location : South Australia, Australia


The Olympic Dam mine is a large poly-metallic underground mine located in South Australia, 550 km NNW of Adelaide. It is the fourth largest copper deposit and the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world, although copper is the largest contributor to total revenue.


The Olympic Dam mine was facing an issue. With winter approaching, there was a real risk to the amount of tonnage that could be mined if their bores weren’t dewatered in time. This meant a risk to revenue.

The outcomes the client was looking for included:

  • A modular, relocatable bore dewatering system which could start and stop at the drop of pressure in a storage tank
  • Monitoring and control of the system from their central communication facility due to the remote location
  • A system that is resistant to a harsh environment and doesn’t break down, and
  • Project completion in under eight weeks.

The challenge included:

  • A very remote location
  • A harsh environment with extreme heat periods
  • The system needed to start and stop on its own based on a number of variables, such as pressure in the tanks
  • The bore pumps were approximately 100 meters underground
  • Electromagnetic interference with the electrical circuits in the vicinity due to the long cables, and
  • A very short project timeframe.


In order to start and stop the system based on a variable such as pressure and to maintain the flow of water, we designed and implemented a system that consisted of Variable Speed Drives (VSD) which would regulate the speed on the borehole pump and transfer high or low levels of water dependent on the pressure in the tanks. Our modular solution was to fabricate a skid that would contain a switchboard that would house the electronics and VSD.

Protecting the electrical equipment from the heat was challenging as the switchboard had to be IP66 rated and ventilation was not possible. Shielding from the electromagnetic interference of the VSD’s was also required.

Our solution was to build a custom, compartmentalised switchboard that separated the VSDs from the other sensitive equipment, air-conditioned the switchboard to extend the life of the equipment inside and created a solution for preventing wildlife from accessing it. Attached to the skid, besides the switchboard would be the headworks piping which would let the end user know the amount of water being dewatered and also ensure that the pipework downstream and upstream is protected with its mechanical protection settings.

To take advantage of the sun and ensure perpetual power, we also installed solar panels to charge the communications units via batteries. To reduce impact from the harsh environment, we used stainless steel piping as part of the bore headworks package as it was a more robust material.

Our team worked long into the night on a daily basis, as well as weekends, to build the package in under the remaining five weeks. Testing was conducted on our specially-designed testing rig before shipping out the skids to remote South Australia.


In under eight weeks we had designed, constructed and implemented a new system to solve the clients mine dewatering issue. This powerful water supply infrastructure had been a significant challenge and implementing a system that was graceful in performance and display was the result of our tenacity and sharp eye for detail.

Our client described us as “very impressive” and evidenced this by their order of more skids six months later.

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