Slurry Piping Systems in Mining & Mineral Processing Industries

The mining and mineral processing industry provides a diverse set of challenges in the design and operation of pipelines, from complex slurry pipelines through to mine dewatering systems. The traditional requirements of reliability and availability remain key drivers in the design of any system. However, the need to address capital cost, efficiency and optimisation issues continues to become more prevalent in the face of rising production costs and environmental responsibilities. Increasingly, the success of piping systems design is being assessed against all these criteria and a good designer will have considered these aspects during the design process.

FluidFlow’s powerful capabilities have been used successfully by mining and mineral processing companies for years to design complex fluid systems, allow design teams to achieve a consistently high level of accuracy and a thorough understanding of system behaviour throughout the entire design development stages.

FluidFlow in particular addresses the needs of the mining and mineral processing industry which has resulted in a strong presence globally.

Considering slurry flow systems specifically, FluidFlow helps engineers characterize slurries (settling or non-settling/non-Newtonian), evaluate pump performance, consider pump de-rating, predict particle settling velocities, predict likelihood of blockage, predict flows and pressures, estimate solids delivered in the slurry etc. The software equips the engineer with all the tools required to successfully develop efficient slurry flow systems.

Typical piping systems encountered in the mining industry include tailings and paste systems. Tailings is a bi-product of the processing of ore. When the ore is processed, the valuable minerals are separated leaving the fine-grained waste material known as tailings. The tailings are usually pumped from the thickeners through a slurry transportation pipeline and deposited at a dedicated tailings management/storage facility.

The design of tailings piping systems can be quite complex as the properties of the tailings such as concentration etc can fluctuate. It is therefore often necessary to design and develop a piping transportation system which can accommodate the anticipated variations in slurry characteristics. This is where FluidFlow has helped designers understand and overcome these operational issues. Figure 1 provides an illustration of typical tailings piping system as developed in FluidFlow. 

 

Figure 1: Tailings Systems.

Another piping system regularly encountered is mine dewatering. The control of ground water and dewatering of underground or open pit mines can be a very important aspect mine operation.

Figure 2 provides an illustration of typical mine dewatering system as developed in FluidFlow. This system shows six pumps on a pontoon providing the initial lift to the upper elevation where the water is then transported via 17 km of overland piping to the final location.

Figure 2: Mine Pit Dewatering.

Dust extraction systems can also be designed in FluidFlow. The model shown in Figure 3 was used to size the ducting and fan required to remove dust from a conveyor system taking ROM product from a primary underground crusher to a secondary crushing circuit hopper. The conveyors ran in restricted tunnels and had hoods located over the centreline of the conveyors to remove dust at various points in the system.

Figure 3: Dust Extraction System.

Some typical applications where FluidFlow is used in the mining and mineral processing environment include:

  • Flotation circuits (including launder flow and froth factor de-rating).
  • Grinding circuits.
  • Thickening circuits.
  • Process water circuits.
  • Compressed air circuits (instrument and process).
  • Dust suppression and extraction systems.
  • Pressure and Heap leach spray systems.
  • Magnetite recovery systems.
  • Dewatering circuits.
  • Heat exchange circuits.

This blog broadly discusses just a few sample piping systems in the mining and mineral processing industries.

FluidFlow is trusted among many of our users in countries such as Canada, Africa, Madagascar and Australia to mention a few.