Posted by Paul Moore on Mar 23, 2021

What is holistic mine water management? And why should miners take a holistic approach to water management? Pumping and draining mine water and manure worldwide Xylem argues that years of on-site experience have shown that smart and efficient management of all water processes across the mine site will improve the reliability, sustainability and ultimately productivity of a mine operation. “With the right control, every water process – from procurement to drainage to treatment and reuse – can turn from an expense into a strategic advantage.”

A survey of mining operators conducted by Xylem found that 63% believe the growing cost of water and sustainable water management are the most pressing issues related to local water. Jessy Parmar, business development manager for the industrial marketing team at Xylem, said I AM: “It clearly makes economic sense to use this finite resource carefully and efficiently. Similarly, investors and regulators are increasingly focusing on how mining companies use water. The good news is that you can take several easy steps to efficiently manage the mine water on site. A wide range of support is available, from powerful and reliable pumping systems to intelligent technologies for automating processes. “

According to Xylem, the first step that is always recommended is to review a mine’s entire water management system. According to Parmar, this is a five-step process to ensure there is a solid water management foundation:

Perform a pumping system audit

How do pumps work in relation to their Best Efficiency Point (BEP)? Are the pumps correctly sized? Would a different type of pump work more effectively for the application? How do pipelines, valves and controls work on site? A golden rule of all pumping systems, including drainage systems, is to make sure that every pump in the system works as close to its BEP as possible. This is the critical first step towards a reliable and efficient drainage system with minimal downtime

Optimize the energy consumption of the pump for improved BEP performance

The main candidates are pumps that pump large amounts of water over long distances or to much higher altitudes. Make sure air actuators are installed to prevent air from being trapped at high points in the pipe. Check valves ensure that the same water is not pumped repeatedly, while preventing backflow that would affect a pump’s resilience – based on the speed of the backflow, an impeller can be pulled off the pump shaft. It’s also important to make sure the pumps aren’t snoring

Optimize total cost of ownership

By sizing your pump to work as close as possible to the BEP, coupled with optimizing the design of the hydraulic parts, you can significantly reduce wear and energy consumption, which is directly related to cost savings. If you have the proper equipment with an effective maintenance schedule, you can get a long life with a low cost of ownership, resulting in overall safety. Standardization using devices such as frequency converters (VFDs) can also help control costs

Optimize the system

Technologies – such as VFDs, PLC controls and SCADA systems – can make a decisive contribution to ensuring that the entire pump system operates at the highest level of efficiency, delivers the required performance, at low costs for energy and maintenance and with a minimum of unplanned downtime. Such technologies with remote monitoring functions also support the effective use of resources, personnel and time

Emergency planning / emergency measures

Finally, an optimized system includes built-in protection against downtime caused by equipment failure. The first line of defense is effective monitoring and maintenance. However, the most critical devices require contingency planning and backup, e.g. B. redundant pumps or replacement pumps

Parmar continues, “When you are certain that you have the right pumping solutions and that every system is optimized, stratification in smart technology can take the efficiency, reliability and productivity of the site to new levels. But how should you introduce smart tech into your business? Given that an approach tailored to the operating conditions of a single mine provides the maximum benefit, it may be helpful to consider a hypothetical scenario: Take an open pit mining company looking for an efficient drainage solution. The first step is to develop a bespoke solution with the most efficient drainage pump to meet the application’s delivery / flow requirements. The pump should be coupled with a frequency converter (VFD) for optimal performance. As the mine expands and the need for drainage increases, additional pumps may be needed. This second phase of intelligent technology integration could include the integration of an intelligent PLC controller such as the Flygt Multismart into the system. This would allow the customer to easily control multiple pumps via the PLC or an intelligent controller. “

He adds: In a third phase, the drainage system would be further improved by adding a remote M&C solution. Xylem’s Flygt cloud-based SCADA system connects to the Multismart controller and enables the customer to monitor and control activities remotely. For isolated or inaccessible mining locations or operations with limited manpower, remote monitoring and control (M&C) provides 24/7 asset visibility and security. “

Intelligent drainage solution in the Peru copper mine

Xylem developed a similar system for operators of a large open pit copper mine in Peru – an intelligent drainage solution to support operations during the upcoming rainy season. The Xylem team installed Godwin diesel pumps on the surface, operated by a remote M&C system. “The M&C solution is connected to the mine’s SCADA system and can remotely start and stop the pumps, monitor capacity and fuel levels, and transmit operating parameter data to mine personnel. Mine operators can now monitor and control the flow and operation of the pumps in just a few seconds as the pump approaches maximum capacity or before expected heavy rain events. Previously, to reconfigure the pumps, the power cord had to be removed and the hoses disconnected. The new proposed solution – with its remote monitoring function – increases safety and efficiency, and lowers the labor costs associated with switching pumps or dumping electricity into the mine. “

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitization in many sectors, and mining is no exception. “Because of the limited human resources and increased safety that automation brings, intelligent pumping solutions, remote monitoring and controls, and advanced telemetry systems will grow rapidly in mining around the world. And this can only be a good thing and increase efficiency, reliability and productivity across the industry. Now is the time to take advantage of automation and all of its benefits and turn water management from an expense into a strategic asset. “

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