The use of plastics pipes in mining for water, waste, chemical and slurry transport is extensive. The product has major cost advantages over competitive products. It can be installed above and below ground.
The pipes are light weight, flexible easy to transport and install. They are corrosion and erosion resistant, maintain a smooth bore and when properly installed require very little maintenance.
Ulan Mine in central New South Wales has begun replacing the piping at its coal washing plant with tough, abrasion-resistant polyethylene pipes. Waterways, in cooperation with Vinidex, supplied the urgently required pipes in sizes 160mm to 400mm polyethylene pipe. The washing and preparation plant takes raw coal from the open-cut and underground operation at the Ulan Mine (40km west of Mudgee) and removes ash, clay fines and dirt to improve the quality of coal shipped from the mine.
With a deadline of only two weeks to complete the maintenance program, contractors Waterways of Singleton were called upon to supply the necessary quantities of pipes and fittings and install the new system in time for start-up. To conform with the plant layout, specialised fittings were procured such as fabricated large-bore 72 degree sweep bends, and a range of Agru moulded fittings. Pipes and fittings were jointed using on site butt welding, in combination with flanged adaptors and backing rings for the prefabricated sections
Hammersly iron ore mine in Western Australia uses large quantity of water in the process. Since water is a very scarce resource in that part of Australia, selection of the most suitable pipeline material was of prime consideration when an expansion project was planned requiring water supply of 200 litres/second. The project had a life expectancy of 20 years and required a water pipeline approximately 60 km in length over very rough terrain with alkaline soil conditions. The chemical and mechanical properties of polyethylene were considered most suitable for the application. Borealis PE100 resin, distributed in Australia by Borouge, was used by Vinidex to manufacture the 500mm pipe. The pipe was delivered in 20m lengths to the site and welded and installed in 200-250m sections requiring no fittings even though the pipeline had many directional changes.
The pipeline was commissioned in 1995 and an audit of its performance was conducted in 2000. No serious operating problems were encountered during that period and only minor maintenance was required. Hammersley management is very pleased with the chosen pipe material.
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