There are many aspects to ensuring mine sites are safe for those working on them; one of the major ones is ensuring the plant and equipment has been manufactured to the highest safety standards. Weir Minerals prioritises safety in everything it does; that means having policies and procedures in place to protect employees, as well as ensuring safety is the paramount factor in the design, manufacture and servicing of equipment.
There are many health and safety hazards associated with slurry pumping, including several that relate directly to the pump itself. For instance, stored energy from the pressurised fluid and errant metal scats from the grinding media have the potential to crack or break the casing, releasing fluid.
Although rare, there is a risk that blockages in the piping may cause the pump to explode. There are also a host of other risks that operators need to be vigilant in guarding against, including hazardous slurry spills and risks associated with pinch points and rotating equipment.
For these reasons, it’s essential that operators employ slurry pumps from trusted manufacturers and OEM spare parts that adhere to the highest level of safety standards.
The Warman MCR pump has a number of design features that help keep operators safe.
The Warman MCR pump has an internal rubber liner; in the unlikely event that the rubber liner wears through or fails, the outer ductile iron casing would provide structural integrity and help contain the fluid. Contrastingly, if an unlined pump casing wears through or fails the slurry may spray or spill outside the pump, creating a hazard and/or potentially injuring nearby personnel.
At Minera Centinela’s (previously Antofagasta Minerals Group) Minera Esperanza’s gold-copper mine in Chile, the operators were having reliability problems with competitor slurry pumps in a mill circuit application. The throatbush and volute on the units were only reaching average lifespans of 950 hours before sudden breakages occurred affecting operation continuity and risking the safety of personnel on-site. Despite the application of mitigation measures – use of chains, among other tactics – none of the solutions produced the desired level of safety and reliability.
As part of the solution, Weir Minerals installed a Warman MCR 650 pump for a six-month trial period. At the conclusion of the trial, the Warman MCR 650 slurry pump replaced the competitor pump, in part, because the equipment proved to be reliable from a safety standpoint.
There are always risks when handling and performing maintenance on large, heavy slurry pumps, and the Warman MCR pump is no exception. However, rubber-lined pumps are lighter than metal-lined pumps; therefore, they’re easier to manoeuvre when suspended by a crane. This also makes the process of lining up studs with holes and bolts more straightforward.
In addition to being heavier, there is a risk that certain wear patterns on metal liners could develop sharp edges that maintenance personnel could cut themselves on when removing the worn liners.
Weir Minerals has a duty of care to its customers to ensure they remain safe when operating and maintaining Warman equipment. Weir Minerals produces specialised lifting tools for the safe handling of Warman slurry pump parts during maintenance; utilising these goes a long way to ensure that correct procedures are followed and maintenance personnel are kept safe.
SINGLE-POINT GLAND ADJUSTMENT
Typically, in most pump designs the gland adjustment points are located near the shaft. However, the Warman MCR pump features a single-point gland adjustment, which allows for safe packing adjustment from outside the stuffing box guard while the pump is still operating. It pulls the adjustment point away from the rotating shaft, thereby reducing the risk of the maintenance personnel getting their hands or clothes caught.
It’s a prime example of how Weir Minerals’ innovative engineering improves safety.