Turnkey dewatering specialist Carl Hamm PPS, together with Solrock Mining Services (MC & P) will introduce an innovation that will revolutionise dewatering in open pit mines.
CEO Chris Munnick has over his career established a reputation for focusing on and successfully delivering new dewatering innovations into the market.
He was for example the thought leader behind introducing critical acid mine drainage dewatering (AMD) technology for the Department of Water Affair’s three plants that are now responsible for ensuring underground AMD from historic gold mining does not infiltrate the surface across a widespread area stretching from the far East Rand to the West Rand.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 10 2018
In his position as CEO of Carl Hamm Pipes, Pumps and Solutions (PPS), Munnick has focused his energies on delivering a new dewatering innovation to the market that will completely change the way open pit mines are dewatered.
“These mines traditionally invest heavily into extensive in-pit dewatering infrastructure that is costly, requires on-going maintenance and invariably becomes a costly exercise to manage as the pit becomes progressively deeper,” Munnick starts.
The solution he will soon introduce to the market not only removes these challenges, but offers benefits that will deliver significant operational expenditure cost savings as well.
“Our focus is to take dewatering completely out of the pit by offering a solution that entails sinking a small (2.5 m x 3.5 m rectangular) vertical shaft next to the pit to a depth below the pit.
"Carl Hamm PPS has partnered with shaft sinking and decline development specialist Solrock Mining Solutions (MC & P) to deliver all sinking requirements.
"This company will deploy a non-explosive sinking technique from Nonex – a company that specialises in ‘sensitive blasting’ or more specifically, explosive cartridges that are non-explosive.
“This enhances both safety and environmental sensitivity – two critical components in the mining sector.”
A pipeline and dewatering pump will then be installed inside the shaft. From there the company will construct 150 mm diameter horizontal boreholes to access the bottom of the pit from which it can then be dewatered.
Once fully constructed, installed and commissioned, the system will pump continuously or as needed.
In so doing the company would reduce the number of boreholes required from +10 within the pit (depending on the size of the pit) to no more than three below the pit.
“Not only will this increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, it will significantly reduce the life-of-mine dewatering costs. But there a great number more advantages to the system,” Munnick highlights.
For example, in-pit boreholes have a finite depth. The Carl Hamm PPS solution is not impeded by this challenge.
“We can sink our shaft deeper as the pit extends. And should the pumping requirements increase, the addition of variable speed drives to the pump will increase the speed at which the pump can operate,” Munnick explains.
The installation of the system itself is another benefit. The Carl Hamm pipeline can be extended with ease and additional pipe links fitted at surface to extend the pipeline length.
The modularity solution approach is extended to pump and variable speed drive.
To take full advantage of this, Carl Hamm conducted a due diligence study of all suppliers of pumps and medium voltage variable speed drives and concluded that KSB and Rockwell Automation were the suppliers of choice.
The entire solution will be offered as a package deal that will include sinking, drilling, equipping (electrical and mechanical), installation and commissioning.
Like its partnership with Solrock and Nonex, Carl-Hamm has selected a range of specialist companies within these fields to deliver the entire solution which includes power generation and electrical control houses from Efficient Power and the electrical installation and control system by Woodrow Engineering, who are integration specialists.
The road ahead
Munnick and his team have completed the conceptual designs for the system and are now refining it slightly in preparation for ensuring it is market-ready.
Part of this process will also include a pilot study which the company has secured with a large-scale copper producer in the Democratic Republic of Congo – a region home to many big open pit operations in a climate recognised for its high rainfall.
“The system does require a close working relationships with the client and access to their geological and hydrological information which will enable us to seamlessly deliver a system that performs optimally,” Munnick concludes.