The failure of a critical pump in a mining operation means unplanned and extremely expensive downtime, which can escalate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue in just a few hours’ time. That makes it all the more critical to choose the appropriate pump for difficult mining environments where pumps are required to perform virtually nonstop.
In addition, the drop in commodity prices has caused many mining operations to place added focus on maximizing the longevity of equipment through smart product selection and equipment repair to meet production goals.
Vertical turbine and submersible pumps are workhorse machines in mining applications. Matching the proper pump to the job must include an evaluation of the environment in which the pump will be operating, specific design features of the pump, and its role in the total system design to ensure the equipment performs effectively over a long period of time.
The first consideration in selecting a pump for a mining application is material compatibility. Is the pump constructed of durable materials that won’t corrode quickly during repeated contact with the ore being mined or other chemicals used in the mining process?
If you are moving water with a low pH or media that is highly aggressive, pump metallurgy becomes a critical factor in pump selection. In these circumstances, a higher initial price for specialized materials will be justified by substantially longer life.
For example, a stainless steel motor on a submersible turbine pump placed deep inside a well will resist corrosion and can withstand high pressure and temperature, further reducing the potential for corrosion and extending product life. Materials such as cast iron, cast bronze, alloy steel and carbon steel can also prevent corrosion, depending on the application, like open pit and underground dewatering or water recovery from tailing ponds.