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Overcoming the challenges of mine pump environments

Mining sites are a challenging environment for pumps and it is not uncommon for them to experience a variety of problems that leads to costly maintenance or pump failure. Being aware of the common problems will ensure the best outcome for a mining operation.

Dragflow electric high head pump

Dragflow electric high head pump

Mining sites are a hub of activity with companies moving as quickly as they can to extract commodities while the price is high. Full consideration of the all factors that may affect pumps and the performance need to be taken into account to ensure a reliable and cost effective solution. The wrong choice of pump can result in reduced life, extra maintenance, and costly downtime.

Pumping solids

One of the main causes of mine pump failure is clogging caused by suspended solids and slurry. Slurry is one of the most challenging fluids to pump as it’s abrasive, thick and contains high levels of solids.

Slurry is usually made up of a mixture of fluid and pulverised solids but in mining applications, other materials, such as shotcrete fibres or solids generated by underground ramp traffic, can make their way into the mix.

According to Chris Molloy, Dewatering Manager at FITT Resources, Dragflow’s range of slurry and dewatering pumps for dewatering and slurry transfer are able to handle high levels of solids (up to an S.G of 1.8) and keep the slurry in suspension via a high efficiency agitator helping to prevent failure due to clogging.

“Dragflow pumps are designed to work in the harshest mine environments. They are able to handle solids from 20mm up to 120mm. The agitator blades allow them to lift settled solids, which are dragged into the pump to create a continuous flow of concentrated slurry up to 70 per cent per weight,” Mr Molloy said.

“These features help prevent solids from blocking the pump inlet and reducing maintenance costs.”

A corrosive environment

yanacocha open pit clean up1

Open pit clean-up

Mine pumps are required to move a number of volatile fluids, including superheated water containing pyrite, iron or sand, and emulsified brine phase (calcium chloride) drilling liquid. These fluids are aggressive, causing corrosion and mechanical degradation due to abrasion.

When corrosion and abrasion occur, pumps will require constant monitoring even when newly installed. They also cause changes in the flow rate, which will need to be constantly adjusted to re-establish the desired flow rate.

This creates costly downtime during maintenance, regular component replacement and pump failure. Choosing the right pump material, such as a solid metallurgy, will reduce these effects, providing a long-term, cost-effective solution.

“We have found that Dragflow mine pumps have lower wear rates and prolonged component life as they are made from high quality materials and operate at lower speeds. High chrome alloy (600/650 Brinell) is used for all wear parts to reduce the risk of excessive wear, therefore extending the time between component replacements and reducing maintenance,” Mr Molloy said.

“There is the option to have an extra hardened protective coating layer applied inside and outside the pump casting for extremely corrosive applications, ensuring the further life extension of the part.”

Stainless steel (316SS) components such as the pump strainer, fasteners and lifting plates can also installed for applications in environments with a pH from 2 to 10.

Getting hot

Electric super duty pump used for mine slurry

Electric super duty pump used for mine slurry

Another common problem with mine pumps is overheating due to low levels of water during prolonged operation, which can damage the pump or cause pump failure.

To prevent this from happening, Dragflow pumps from 3.7 to 18 kW come with top discharge that creates a natural cooling jacket, allowing the pump to work even when water levels are low. External cooling jackets are also available for bigger pumps from 26 to 110 kW.

A robust solution

Choosing the correct pump can help to mitigate some of the common operational problems that face mine pumps, ensuring long life and lower maintenance costs.

Dragflow are ideal for mining applications as they are among the most robust pumps available, making them excellent performers in challenging environments,” Mr Molloy said.

For more information, contact the FITT Resources team or visit

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