Screens & Feeders

Dewatering Silt and Slurry In Open Cut Mining

Whether in the jungles of Kalimantan- Borneo, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, or on the snow-covered mountains of western Iran, Multiflo pumps can be found removing water, silt and slurry containing small rocks from open-cut mines.

Produced by Australian-based Weir Minerals (a division of The Weir Group PLC), Multiflo provides mine dewatering solutions, including both skid- and pontoon-mounted pump units, underground pumping systems and machinery fuel filling control systems, to open-cut mines all around the world. The company also provides solutions closer to home in areas such as central Queensland and the Pilbara.

Wherever coal and minerals are mined, washed or treated, Multiflo pumps are at the heart of the process.

?We provide our customers with a customised solution for specialised open-cut mining applications,? said Peter Smit, general manager of sales and engineering at Weir Minerals Multiflo.

?In an open-cut mine environment, pumps are often towed around the site for kilometres on end by dozers or pushed around by excavators. The pumps may even operate near or in the firing line of the blasts so our mine dewatering pumps require a heavy-duty construction to survive in the mining environment.?

Multiflo pumps are built specifically for the open-cut mining environment, both in their construction and their operation.

Unlike clean-water pumps, Multiflo pumps can pump water, slurry and even small 5cm rocks against high-head situations out of the bottom of open-cut mines. The Multiflo line of diesel-powered vacuum-primed pumps range from a minimum flow of 475 gpm (30 l/s) to 4,755 gpm (300 l/s), and are customised from nine different base models.

In open-cut mining, Mr Smit explained, water collects at the bottom in catchall areas. It does not matter if it is rainwater or groundwater seeping through the side of the pit, the water, silt and slurry must be removed for successful mining.

Dewatering is a continuous process which makes a reliable power source a critical component in any mining dewatering pump.

?We?ve been using Caterpillar engines in our dewatering pump solutions for about 30 years,? said Mr Smit. ?More than 85 per cent of our pump units are fitted with Cat engines.?

The Cat engines in Multiflo pumps range in size from a Cat C2.2 to a Cat C27 ACERT.

?Because we build customised pumping solutions for most of our customers, it?s our customers who tell us which model of engine to put in the pump,? said Mr Smit. ?Most customers prefer Caterpillar engines. They are already familiar with Caterpillar equipment because that?s what they are using at the mine site. A Cat engine is a natural choice.?

For those customers that don?t have an engine preference, Weir Minerals Multiflo usually recommends Cat diesel power. ?We select Cat engines because they are reliable, our customers are familiar with the Cat brand, and we know that we/our customers will receive fast, efficient service from the worldwide network of Cat dealers,? Mr Smit explained.

?We were acquired about a year ago by the Weir Group PLC, which launched us into the global market,? he added. ?We rely on Cat dealers around the world to support the engines we choose for our pumps. It?s been a win/win relationship for us and our customers.

?Our customers know that wherever they are, they can call on their Cat dealer for service. These guys aren?t interested in servicing pumps or engines – they just want to mine. They choose our pumps because they can rely on them, put them in the bottom of the pit, turn them on and know the pumps will remove the water.?

In addition to the Caterpillar brand of engine, the most common fuel choice for Multiflo pumps is diesel.

?Diesel engines allow us to vary the speed of our pumps to match the pumping duty required,? said Mr Smit. ?We run from idle all the way up to maximum rpm, day in and day out, pumping water, silt and slurry.?

Many open-cut mining applications operating at depths less than 100 metres usually require one pump to deliver the water to the top of the pit. However, for deeper mines (one in Indonesia will eventually reach 1000 metres in depth), Weir Minerals offers pumping solutions with multiple pumps in series.

?We?re very much about offering complete dewatering solutions,? Mr Smit added. ?We listen to our customers and develop a comprehensive dewatering solution to fit their specific needs.?

Weir Minerals plans to continue purchasing and installing Caterpillar engines in its Multiflo pumps. The company also plans to continue delivering those pumps to customers all across the globe.

In addition to its Australian headquarters, the company also operates an Indonesian branch in Balikpapan. A recent order from an Indonesian-based mining company called for eight Multiflo 420E pumps (a new model) powered by Cat C27 ACERT.

?We expect to use at least 30 more Cat C27 ACERT engines in 2009,? Mr Smit concludes. ?We also plan to continue using all the other Cat engines we currently use.?

Source: Energy Power Systems

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