Weir Minerals has acquired the business and certain assets of a Port Melbourne pipe loop facility from Golder Associates.

This facility is now known as Weir Technical Centre (WTC), and enhances Weir Minerals’ already considerable global tailings solutions capability.

At the WTC, Weir Minerals will focus on continuous development of solutions to utilise and manufacture tailings based products, as well as the design of pipeline transport systems. The team will be based in Melbourne, and form a part of the specialist tailings treatment unit of Weir Minerals Netherlands.

Weir Minerals’ extensive global experience in tailings will be expanded by the WTC, which brings with it the capability to test pipeline and tailings solutions for customers before they are installed on site.

Tailings are the residue left over from metallurgical mining processes.  More and more, Weir’s customers are looking for tailings improvement solutions.  This includes the safe transport storage and disposal of tailings, as well as recycling tailings as a resource to be converted into construction materials and mine backfill.

Terese Withington, Weir Minerals Regional Managing Director for APAC said, “Our customers have asked us to help them find solutions for the safe transport, storage and disposal or use of their tailings as a resource, and we have listened.  As an extension of our ongoing tailings solutions activities led by our experts in Venlo in the Netherlands, we aim to help our customers reduce their environmental impact including a reduction in the use of water, and recycling or using their tailings by converting them into construction materials.”

Not just suited for the minerals processing sector, the tailings and pipeline systems (TAPS) research and development can specify systems for handling surface tailings, concentrates, ore and water, as well as the production and transport of concrete for the construction industry.  

“To help our customers minimise their environmental impact, our TAPS research and development can also help specify for the manufacture and transport of backfill products from tailings, and the recovery of water from tailings slurries,” said Ms Withington.

Nils Steward, General Manager Operations and Development of WTC, commented on the acquisition.

“I’m very pleased to be working for Weir Minerals to enhance their tailings capability.  Weir already has some of the best experts in the field based in Venlo, and I’m happy to be a part of this global group.  

“The team in Port Melbourne will continue to provide the services our existing customers know and expect and all on-going and future projects will be seen through to completion.  We are very excited by the opportunity for continuous improvement in providing innovative solutions for our customers with Weir Minerals.”

The closed loop pipeline – comprised of one large and one small loop – at the WTC will allow Weir Minerals to monitor flow rates, temperatures, pressures, solid concentrations and power requirements through the system.  In addition, hydrocyclone, centrifuge and dewatering technologies can be extensively tested in house.  

Stuart Hayton, Sales and Marketing Director of Weir Minerals Netherlands explains why testing is so important:

“All ores vary in density and texture, and flow differently when in the form of a slurry in a pipe.

Research and development activity will help our customers determine the best solution for their specific site, helping to reduce their costs and risk.  The research analyses and predicts the behaviour of all slurries, and can report on flow behaviour, rheology, laminar flow settling  and dewatering and separation of slurries through cyclones, centrifuges and vibrating screens.

“Using the data generated by the WTC test loop, our specialists are able to specify tailings products and plant development to suit our customers’ site-specific environmental and operational conditions, as well as perform transient and stress analysis for pipeline installations and evaluation of materials and fittings.  

“We can help our customers reduce risk by providing them the opportunity to perform pilot plant test work using equipment similar to that which would be used on their site.”

Using tailings as backfill, and in mining construction, has numerous positive environmental impacts, and through the WTC, Weir Minerals will be able to help their customers minimise power and water consumption, as well as to improve the safe disposal of tailings.  

Nils Steward says, “Power consumption is often the single biggest expense in minerals production.  By utilising the technology available through the WTC, we can provide analysis to determine optimum pipeline configuration which includes appropriately sized pumps, motors and pipes to reduce the amount of energy wasted in slurry transportation.  Reducing energy waste is beneficial not just to the operators bottom line, but to the environment.

“In a world where clean fresh water can be scarce, it is imperative that the company’s customers utilise every drop and reduce excess waste wherever possible.  Our research into dewatering helps to ensure water used through processing can be efficiently and economically recovered, to be used again wherever possible. By focussing on the utilisation of mining tailings, we can open up new and innovative ways to not just save money for our customers, but truly minimise the environmental impacts of mining.”

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