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MATERIALS HANDLING


Wilfried Staijen details how peristaltic hose pumps enhance precious metal mining PUMPS PROGRESSIVE


is a high degree of diffi culty in handling abrasive paste with varying density, over long distances and without frequent breakdowns. T is diffi culty is compounded when chemicals are added to the paste. However, the latest peristaltic hose pumps, such as Bredel models available from Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group, are proving themselves highly adept at overcoming these obstacles. In the fi rst stage of fi ltration-based mining, ore is crushed and ground, after which the fi ne ore is mixed with water in


W 36 www.engineerlive.com


hen it comes to pumps, there are many challenges associated with precious-metal mining applications. For instance, there


froth fl otation cells, which serve to extract precious metals. T e resulting tail froth is thickened in a sedimentation tank, where the overfl ow is water and the underfl ow contains concentrated ore paste. T e solids content of the paste is typically 40-75%, reaching the higher end of this range at the bottom of the tank. It is the pumps – which are installed beneath the thickener – that determine the maximum allowable dry solid content. As a result, pump technology is the limiting factor.


THE APPLICATION Mines will typically feature at least two pumps per tank, for suction and to feed the fi lter press, which can sometimes be


located up to 300m away. Importantly, fl ow is independent of factors such as changes in paste density, fl uctuations in viscosity, and changes in suction and delivery head. Aside from peristaltic hose pumps, no other pump types can withstand such variations. Traditionally, centrifugal pumps have been adopted widely in precious metal mining, especially for thickener underfl ow applications, but they have many notable shortcomings. By way of example, the quantity of dry solids that can be accommodated by centrifugal pumps is limited. In numerous applications, sludge pump rotors and impellers last just a few weeks due to factors such as strong acidity


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