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The pump industry relies on expertise from a large and varied range of specialists, from experts in particular pump types to those with an intimate understanding of pump reliability; and from researchers who delve into the particulars of pump curves to experts in pump efficiency. To draw upon the wealth of expert knowledge the Australian pump industry has to offer, Pump Industry has established a panel of experts to answer all your pumping questions.

In this edition of Ask an Expert, we will continue looking at progressive cavity (PC) pumps and how they can be utilised in the mining industry. PC pump experts are often asked if these pumps are suitable for the mining industry. In fact, PC pumps are very common on mine sites throughout Australia. For these pumps, this particular market sector would be on a par with water/wastewater as one of the most popular in Australia. Listing the various applications in detail would take up this entire issue of the magazine, so instead, below is a summary of the typical applications and key benefits of this pump design.

PC pumps are commonly used in the following mine types:

  • Bauxite (also refined alumina)
  • Coal
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Iron Ore
  • Mineral Sands
  • Nickel
  • Shale Oil
  • Tin
  • Uranium
  • Vanadium
  • Zinc

PC pumps are also used by countless suppliers of mining equipment and chemicals for:

  • Decanters and centrifuges
  • Tunnel drilling equipment
  • Flocculants
  • Chemical dosing
  • Liquid explosives

An example of an easily maneuverable mine dewatering unit.

What are the benefits of PC pumps?

The properties of PC pumps that benefit the mining sector are:

  • Self-priming
  • Minimal pulsation
  • Valve-less operation and flow control
  • Reversible for back-flushing
  • Flow proportional to speed
  • No day to day maintenance required
  • Versatile: can be installed horizontally or vertically and in virtually any position
  • Minimal flow rate variation even with changing pressures
  • Handle multiphase products (liquid and gas

Common applications for PC pumps in mining transfer of mineral slurries

  • Void back-filling applications
  • Dosing of explosives
  • Thickener underflow applications
  • Centrifuge filling
  • Chemical dosing
  • Water treatment
  • Cake transfer
  • Leachate treatment
  • Gland water supply
  • Sludge feed to dewatering machines
  • Typical transfer liquids include polymers, sludge, slurries, grout, various chemicals and clean and dirty water.

Mine dewatering applications for PC pumps

This is one of the most common areas where progressive cavity pumps can be seen, usually installed on a transportable skid with collection tanks for incoming water, and usually incorporating some form of solids separation to partially clean the muddy, high sediment mine water.

The range of progressive cavity pumps used for these applications is long due to the pressure generation required to pump from several hundred meters underground to the surface. There are now a number of companies that specialize in this application area, and occasionally new designs are developed that can provide significant benefits to users of this product range.

Keeping abreast of these developments can certainly pay significant dividends for mine operators. More detailed information on specific design developments can be requested using the contact details at the end of this article.

Peter Vila, Managing Director of SEEPEX Australia, is a progressive cavity pump expert. He has been involved with pumps for over 40 years. Peter spent the first five years repairing pumps and the following 35 years in technical sales, 20 of which have been with SEEPEX progressive cavity pumps.

For more information on progressive cavity pumps, please contact SEEPEX Australia on (02) 4355 4500 or email info.au@seepex.com

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