Coatings to cure corrosion woes

IGS’ alloyed coating solutions keep even the most aggressive corrosive materials away from critical mining equipment.

High-temperature chloride sulfidation and acid corrosion are just as nasty as they sound, and that’s exactly what awaits some of the most critical mining equipment when not protected.

When essential minerals like copper and platinum are refined and processed, their flow patterns release aggressively corrosive particles that can damage everything around them. This includes machinery made from carbon steel like smelters, boilers and driers – key elements of the mineral processing chain.

Once corrosion begins, machinery shutdown is inevitable, leading to lost production and potentially millions of dollars spent on replacing equipment.

Fortunately, Integrated Global Services (IGS) specialises in developing surface technologies to protect critical equipment in highly corrosive environments.

“If operators could make this kind of equipment from a more chemically durable material like gold, I’m sure they would,” IGS director of global minerals and mining Teresa Huysamen told Australian Mining.

“But as that’s not exactly cost effective, we’ve come up with a highly effective solution that protects equipment and increases its lifespan by decades.”

IGS’ solution comes in the form of highly durable corrosion-resistant alloyed coatings sprayed onto machinery using high-velocity thermal spray equipment.

“This acts as a barrier between machinery and the processing environment, significantly extending its lifespan and reducing maintenance costs by employing a once-off solution,” Huysamen said.

“We can easily extend the lifespan of critical equipment from 20 to 40 years, saving operators potentially millions.”

When it comes to ensuring the best possible outcomes for the customer, Huysamen highlighted IGS’ holistic approach to getting the recipe right.

“Our coatings are completely customisable, depending on the environment and processing needs of our customers,” she said. “Our teams run extensive tests on each coating to ensure the customer is getting the best solution for their specific application.”

Equipment can be severely damaged without proper protection.
Image: IGS

IGS has a technical evaluation laboratory in the US, where it carries out comparable processing environment tests and develops a solution for the needs of its customers’ sites.

Specialised technicians assess a range of factors like temperature, pressure, processing material and operating conditions.

With operations centres in the US, Canada, Japan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, as well as equipment on the ground in Australia, IGS is well positioned to service any situation the mining sector may present.

“This is what sets us apart in Australia and across the globe,” Huysamen said. “We analyse, evaluate and validate solutions for our customers with expertise from every corner of the world.”

It’s this kind of expertise that helps IGS find the right solution for its customers.

Huysamen said how long the coatings need to last is a key consideration for IGS when working with a new site.

“If a customer is currently replacing equipment every two or three years then we need to take into consideration how heavy-duty the coating needs to be,” she said. “We don’t want to develop a Ferrari solution to a Toyota problem.”

“This helps us find the most cost-effective solutions for our customers while maximising the quality of our coatings.”

Huysamen emphasised the fact IGS takes a human-focused approach when implementing its coating solutions to a mineral processing operation.

“When equipment erodes it becomes vulnerable to potentially catastrophic scenarios,” she said. “For example, if a waste heat tube breaks down over a boiler bath, it can cause an explosion and put workers at unnecessary risk.”

An overseas customer of IGS had its worst nightmare realised when a corroded furnace exploded, causing multiple fatalities. The furnace was supposed to have a seven-year life span, but the incident occurred only one year into its operation.

Following the incident, the customer contacted IGS to implement a coating solution on its equipment to ensure such an event never happened again.

The customers’ operations have been running smoothly and incident-free ever since.

“Not only are we looking to make our customers’ lives easier, but our coatings also have the potential to save lives as well,” Huysamen said. “IGS’ coating solutions are an obvious choice to keep people safe and keep operations running.”

This feature appeared in the May 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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