Redefining underground water management

water management

Xylem and Seepex have created an ergonomic, user-friendly pump station.

Through their new PC pump station, Xylem and Seepex have built a compact unit perfect for fixed and mobile mine dewatering applications underground.

It is Xylem’s mission to solve the world’s most challenging water issues, no matter the situation or environment.

Through its many brands and partnerships, Xylem has cracked the most difficult codes to ensure water is safely, sustainably and efficiently managed across industries.

Xylem has been at the forefront of evolving water management and its next advancement has it diving deeper into underground mines with a new compact pump station fit for the narrowest spaces.

The company’s partnership with leading pump technology specialist Seepex has seen the two create a progressive cavity (PC) pump and hopper package designed for use in mobile and fixed mine dewatering applications.

Xylem product and marketing manager, Australia and New Zealand, Cameron Pate says the pump station was built with the confines of an underground mine in mind.

“It’s a lower, more narrow space underground so the design of the pump station is built around being compact and mobile and easy to install and move around,” Pate says.

“We also made these units safer for underground by not having ladders go up to the top of the tank.”

Some underground pump stations can be two-to-three metres tall, requiring workers to scale ladders in slippery conditions. The compact design makes it easier and safer to complete the daily inspections and servicing.

“Part of the daily inspection is for someone to physically climb up to the top of the tank and hose out all of the sediment that builds up in the bottom of the tank, so we’ve tried to engineer a solution to minimise the height in which people have to climb,” Pate says.

Xylem business development manager mining, metals and industrial, Himanth Prathap, says the quality of the PC pump station has resulted from the unique expertise Xylem and Seepex have brought to the partnership.

“Seepex is a well-known brand in the progressive cavity pump (PCP) space and has been making PCPs for a long time now,” he says.

“This particular model was specifically developed for mining and there was a fair bit of work that had been done by Seepex themselves to understand what the typical challenges are with PCPs.

“It was based on that feedback from customers that they came up with this particular design and when we came into the picture with the Seepex partnership, we were able to build on those features to come up with an improved pump station design.”

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Constructed to be more ergonomic and user-friendly than the competition, Pate says the PC pump station also excels when it comes to maintenance or rebuilds.

This is made possible with Seepex’s ‘Maintain-In-Place’ (MIP) technology, which greatly improves the pump’s repairability, whereby the rotor-stator cartridge can be replaced in-situ without disconnecting the pipework.

Seepex’s NSM70-12V pump (an attachment to the PC pump station) is significantly lighter than competitor models, while even wall stator technology allows the one pump model to cover a range of duty points that would otherwise require multiple competitor models.

The capability of the pump station isn’t just the perception of Xylem and Seepex either, verification is also coming from the field.

A well-known underground mining operation in Kalgoorlie took on the pump station as part of a three-month trial in August. The company was so happy with the product compared to its current units that it signed a long-term contract with no designated end date.

“We have had a few units go out to site now and the feedback so far has been, these pump stations are really compact and really easy to manage – these are the words from the customers themselves,” Prathap says.

“The fact that it’s compact really makes a big difference because real estate is limited in the underground mining space, so every time there is an opportunity to have a compact and more manageable asset underground, the end users would prefer that over the larger alternative.”

With its new PC pump station gaining traction, Xylem continues to evolve the concept and possibility of water management in mining through its end-to-end focus.

“We’ve managed to build a product portfolio that offers solutions at every stage of managing water – whether it be how water is sourced, then moved, tested, treated and then discharged back to where it was sourced from,” Prathap says.

“And given how much of an emphasis there is today around how water is being managed on mine sites, the PC pump station is just another valued-added solution that we’ve been able to bring to the customer, to complement all of the existing solutions that we have around water management.” 

This feature appeared in the February issue of Australian Mining.

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