Tough economic conditions for the mining sector – aggravated by the COVID-19 lockdown – has seen a growth in the rental of mobile pumping and dewatering solutions.
“The industry has seen capital expenditure being cut drastically, making renting a popular option for this versatile equipment,” says Integrated Pump Rental’s Sykes product specialist Henru Strydom.
“The mobile configuration offers considerable value by allowing mines to move vital equipment to wherever they need it at the time.”
This can help avoid the expense of multiple stationery units, as well as the infrastructure that must accompany fixed pumps.
The rule applies to both dewatering and water transfer functions in mining operations, says Strydom, noting that even high capacity pumps can be rendered mobile – as demonstrated by the wide range of sizes that comprise Integrated Pump Rental’s fleet.
“In our range of top-end quality Sykes pumps, our extra-high head XH150 pump with a 150 mm discharge connection can dewater an open pit down to 250 m deep,” he says.
“At about 6 t in weight with a full tank of fuel, this unit can run at full pumping load for 24 to 28 hours continuously between re-fills.”
These larger pumping units can be transported to site on an 8 t drop-side truck, along with a wheeled base. At their destination, they are simply craned off the truck and assembled.
Moving the trailer around the mine site is usually done with heavy equipment like a grader or loader. This mobility also has the advantage of being moveable in the case of an emergency; this may include incessant heavy rain, where there is risk of flooding.
The high head (HH) range of Sykes pumps comes in options up to 300 mm discharge connection, and can pump over a height of 70 to 150 m. The HH130, for instance, is permanently on a site trailer, and can be transported to site as is.
Medium head pumps – the MH models in the range – can, in turn, manage heads of between 50 to 90 m. On the smaller end of the company’s Sykes range are the CP (contractors’ package) models which can easily be pulled by a bakkie – and are popular for moving water between mine dams, for example.
“Among the advantages of the Sykes CP units is that they weigh only about 1.5 t on a road trailer, and are compliant with road regulations,” Strydom says. “This makes for easy mobility on-road and off-road. Wherever a 4×4 vehicle can go, our mobile pumps will go.”
The robust, auto-priming range has features that protect against hazards like overheating or low oil levels, optimising uptime and ensuring low maintenance requirements.
He emphasises that these pumps do not need constant monitoring, due to their reliability and safety features. Internal components on the Sykes pumps – including the impeller, wear plates and shaft – are supplied in stainless steel as standard, suiting them well for highly acidic applications.
In line with efforts to promote local sourcing for the mining sector, Integrated Pump Rental locally manufactures its pump sets. One of its locally built Sykes XH150 units has been operating successfully in a dewatering application at a Lesotho diamond mine, under demanding conditions that include very cold winters.
“We find that most of our customers value the manoeuvrability of their on-site mobile pumps, which gives them the flexibility to change location and application,” he says.
“The mobility also usually means quicker deployment of the equipment, which could be important in avoiding costly downtime.”
While some customers prefer the ownership option, there has definitely been an increase in rental demand over the past year or so, says Strydom. Apart from the capital outlay that renting saves, there are a number of other benefits.
“Renting gives us the responsibility for maintenance, leaving the mine to deploy its resources elsewhere,” he says.
“We service the units every 250 hours and are in regular contact with the customer, should they need anything. Our technicians are also on-hand, servicing the main mining areas.”
So attractive is this option that one mining customer in the North West province has been renting for almost 18 months already – despite the option to purchase.
There is also a noticeable trend towards certain customers requesting service level agreements. Where a mine has numerous pumps on site, Strydom says, Integrated Pump Rental has been requested to maintain the equipment on a regular and ongoing basis.
“In many cases, mines find it cost effective to outsource maintenance,” he says.
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“It is also sometimes a challenge to find and retain the skills to professionally maintain this specialised equipment to the highest standard, to ensure that performance and reliability are not compromised.”