Moving water across great Australian distances

Image: Steel Mains.

Moving a scarce resource like water to its intended, remote destination is no easy feat in Australia. Steel Mains discusses what it takes to get this job done right the first time.

Water scarcity affects every continent globally, with consumption of the resources having risen more than twice the rate of population growth over the past century.

Faced not only with its scarcity, mining companies must also contend with the challenges of overcoming the distance between mine sites and water sources.

This underlines how critical water pipelines are as a means of water conveyance.

“Water pipelines are costly to build. It takes a long time to have major projects approved and funded by project owners. And it is hugely expensive if water pipelines break down and cause unintended shutdowns,” Steel Mains business development manager – mining, Amir Vahdani tells Australian Mining.

“This is why Steel Mains provides substantial value in our custom-designed pipeline solutions, offering companies the longest service life, as well as maintenance-free features.”

Steel Mains focusses on the notion of total cost of ownership (TOC) in assessing the long-term value of a purchase as opposed to looking simply at the material supply price.

In two different corners of Australia, Steel Mains has recently supplied almost 70 kilometres in pipelines to two global mining companies to meet their project-specific requirements.

They include very aggressive water (low pH) and corrosive soils (acidic), extremely high service temperature (over 60 degrees Celsius) at the highest pressure rating that pipelines are commonly designed for (PN35), while supplying all the relevant fittings, including bends, reducers, air valves, scour valves tees and flanges.

Notwithstanding such extensive requirements, Steel Mains’ high pressure steel pipeline system provides the mining industry with the optimum solution in conjunction with the lowest carbon footprint.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the product is Australian made, employing Australian labour, with steel that is produced from Australian iron ore,” Vahdani says.

“Our pipeline system’s corrosion protection coating and linings are also sourced locally from Australian manufacturers and local quarries.

“Once the product comes to the end of its useful lifespan, most of the components are recyclable to provide optimum sustainability benefits to the environment.”

Both of these Australian projects were uniquely challenging, from the design phase, through to their production requirements, logistics and final delivery.

But Steel Mains managed to deliver the agreed scope of supply for both projects ahead of schedule by engaging both its manufacturing plants in Western Australia and Victoria.

“It’s a great performance to be able to complete such sizeable and critical projects with zero lost time injuries (LTI),” Vahdani says.

“We used more than 600 truckloads to deliver the pipes and fittings to the project sites safely and effectively.

“All trucks were equipped with custom-designed bolsters to protect Steel Mains’ unique pipe corrosion protection coating, lining and jointing technologies from any potential damage.

“We engaged highly experienced and well-trained drivers, who made use of the assistance of GPS technology to deliver the pipes to remote locations, and received commendations from the project owners for our incident-free performance.”

Steel Mains and its transport service providers used the most stringent transport management systems, involving the end users through journey management, loading/unloading plans and site inductions in order to provide the safest practices for pipe delivery.

Under a tight delivery timeline, Steel Mains delivered over 5500 pipe lengths to the remote areas, which are located outside of phone reception.

“Our transport service providers needed to take an innovative approach to maintaining communication with the site supervisors to stick with the daily delivery plan that was agreed between Steel Mains and the end users,” Vahdani says.

“That included a maximum use of modern communication technologies, including satellite phones, but it takes more than just technology to deliver the project.

“We have a quality team of people with a can-do attitude and a safety-oriented mindset to ensure project success.”

To provide further support to the project team, Steel Mains’ nominated transport service providers strung the pipe along the trench so it was ready for final inspection and laying.

“Mining companies can consult with Steel Mains’ installation experts to implement the safest and most cost- and time-effective installation and handling methodologies to ensure all project requirements are satisfied in order for the pipeline to last for its intended lifespan,” Vahdani says.

“This is particularly relevant for large projects where our customers have testified to the great value of the expert advice.”

Both Steel Mains’ welded and non-welded pipe jointing technologies already provide contractors and asset owners with the optimum system to ensure the highest construction productivity and lowest risk, thereby shortening the laying period and saving project installation costs directly and indirectly.

Steel Mains also undertakes hydro testing in the factory in accordance with Australian Standard AS1579 for every single length of pipe that leaves its factories.

In addition, Steel Mains applies a holiday test to each pipe’s corrosion protection coating to ensure its suitability before being loaded onto the trucks for delivery.

The same procedure is then repeated on site following unloading, and once more before pipe laying commences to ensure that the coating has remained intact after its long-distance journey.

Both asset owners and pipe laying contractors can benefit from training workshops delivered by Steel Mains to ensure they obtain the best value from their pipes.

This feature also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.

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