APIA benefits promoted at slurry pipelines event

The 2nd Annual Slurry Pipeline Summit 2012 was recently held in Fremantle from 20-21 November, and organisers IIR Conferences kindly allowed Philip Venton to briefly discuss the benefits that the APIA, together with its service providers, suppliers, contractors and supporting organisations, can bring to the slurry pipeline industry.

The conference focus was on experience with the design and operation of slurry pipeline transportation systems from the initial development of long distance mineral transportation pipelines in the 1960s to and including pipelines recently constructed in Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and China.

Presenters were drawn from South Africa, China, USA, Chile, Switzerland and Australia. The 50-plus participants gained the benefit of knowledge and experience from world leaders in the field of long distance transportation pipelines, and world leaders in short distance very high concentration pipelines for mineral processing plant tailing transport and storage. Conference sessions included debating the feasibility of designing and operating slurry pipeline systems to operate in the laminar flow regime – something that is contrary to experience for long distance slurry pipelines, but which has special applications, particularly in mineral tailing disposal systems.

Australia has the world’s first iron concentrate pipeline (Savage River, Tasmania), and the world’s longest single pump station slurry pipeline (Century Zinc/Lead). It also operates the world’s first successful beach sand bypassing system (Nerang River Entrance Sand Bypassing – Queensland). Significant slurry pipeline systems are operated in New Zealand (ironsands), Papua New Guinea (copper and pyrites concentrates and nickel ore), while several iron concentrate pipelines either exist or are planned, and one (CITIC Sino – Western Australia) currently undergoing commissioning. Australia’s mines and some thermal power stations also operate innovative high-concentrate mineral tailing pipeline disposal systems that introduce significant efficiencies to these operations.

Mineral slurry pipeline systems operate at similar pressures to those used in oil and gas pipeline systems, they are required to deliver the same level of reliability as these systems and they experience many of the same operating and maintenance problems – however because they deal with minerals, not oil and gas, there is limited information transfer between mineral slurry pipeline designers and operators and those who design and operate oil and gas pipelines.

For more information about next year’s 3rd Annual Slurry Pipeline Summit, visit www.iir.com.au/slurry.

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