Large mines produce tailings in high volumes. As suitable large tailings storage facilities are becoming scarce and difficult to find, tailings need to be transferred over longer distances than before. These longer distances, especially when a high positive static head and an extended transfer length have to be covered, require high discharge pressures.
For this purpose, a number of alternative pumping systems are available. The first and most traditional method is to use centrifugal pump systems with multiple pumps in series. Over the last several years however, piston diaphragm pumps have also been successfully used for many such applications, especially at high and very high discharge pressures.
Centrifugal pumps installed in series are usually applied at high flow rates at system pressures up to a maximum of 45–55 bar. Piston diaphragm pumps find application at lower flow rates and at pressures above 35 bar.
In this paper, a train of centrifugal pumps will be compared with conventional (medium flow rate) piston diaphragm pumps and with high flow rate piston diaphragm pumps, which have recently become available and operate successfully.
The comparison is based on an undefined type of tailings at a flow rate of 5,000 m³/hr. The selected discharge pressure is 50 bar, for which traditionally centrifugal pumps are used. This paper will show that at these lower discharge pressures and higher flow rates, piston diaphragm pumps offer a very feasible alternative.
All key figures of CAPEX and OPEX parameters are compared, resulting in a payback period calculation, accompanied by a sensitivity calculation with different OPEX parameters.
In addition to the commercial differences between the various systems, technical aspects will also be discussed.
This paper will show that high-capacity piston diaphragm pumps are the most feasible solution for high-flow tailings applications.
Keywords: tailings slurry, pipeline transfer, pump systems, hydrotransport, comparison
Krimpenfort , H 2018, 'A comparison between various pump systems for high flow rate tailings pipelines', in RJ Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Proceedings of the 21st International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 155-168.