Robust piping solutions for serious mining operations

After more than 130 years as an Australian-made manufacturer, Steel Mains is the largest supplier of high pressure water pipeline systems in the country.

High quality and low maintenance water infrastructure are crucial to mining assets, with many operations still running for several decades.

Whilst it is obvious that operators want to continue digging for valuable minerals – they certainly do not want to be wasting time digging up faulty water pipeline systems.

There are a number of pipeline products on the market including imported products from overseas countries which are often considered as a cheaper alternative.

Steel Mains steel pipeline system is backed by an extensive track record of delivering high-quality steel pipes to some of the country’s major mining operations.

Founded in 1878, Steel Mains has earned an enviable reputation for its steel pipeline and mild steel pipe jointing solutions. Over the century, steel pipeline design, manufacturing processes and technology have evolved into the Sintakote steel pipeline system.

Business development manager mining, Amir Vahdani, says materials and labour required to manufacture Steel Mains products are sourced locally, ensuring their product enjoys greater than 98 per cent local content.

Steel Mains’ operation has remained up and running due to its reputation for high-quality and innovative solutions that are on offer.

“Having strategically positioned our manufacturing plants in VIC and WA, from each corner of the country we are able to supply the whole Australian market, all through local manufacturing and local labour,” Vahdani says.

“Steel Mains is not a supplier who manufactures off-the-shelf-products. What we do is to provide a full bespoke custom-designed solution that is aligned with our customer’s project specific requirements.”

Incorporating a national and international footprint, Steel Mains serves both the mining and water industry, who primarily demand assets have a long operational life, hence the meticulous design and acceptance criteria.

“In terms of mining, it is intertwined with the water industry. The commonality between these industries, is the supply of water,” Vahdani says.

“When it comes to mine sites, water can serve different purposes.

“It may be needed for the supply of water through high pressure water mains. This is often from sources located far away from the mine site (desalination plants or bores), port operation and stock yard. Whether it is for a potable use, processing use, or dust suppression applications – they all require water, and Steel Mains is equipped to provide a unique solution to meet each project-specific requirement.”

Wastewater transferred from mining sites tends to have high levels of acidity, which Vahdani says Steel Mains’ pipes can withstand – and often outlive the life of a mine.

“We have immersed ourselves in major projects like BHP Olympic Dam, where we have forged a longstanding relationship since 1998. Proudly we have worked with many major mining companies, as we are attentive to their needs and, as a result, have developed unique solutions which are used as the foundation for future deployments” he says.

“Mining environments tend to exhibit harsh conditions such as corrosive soils, acidic water, high temperatures and high pressures. These hostile conditions require the ultimate strength and toughness of Steel Mains’ steel solution.”

Vahdani stresses Steel Mains steel pipeline solutions often outlive the life of the mine due to their pipes specifically being designed to last more than 100 years.

“Our steel pipe offers a lifetime solution as they are designed to tolerate these harsh conditions,” he says.

“Steel Mains’ unique word-class coating and lining solutions are applied to the full pipeline to provide superior protection against corrosion in various environments. Protecting the external surface of our products, Steel Mains applies our proprietary Sintakote medium-density-polyethylene coating on the pipe using a fusion-bonding process. This coating is also incorporated on the joints.

“Our Sintakote pipeline eliminates additional costs associated with possible required further maintenance. We encourage our customers to conduct a cost-benefit analysis based on the total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the pipeline.

“If a customer decides to select cheaper alternatives, in the long-term they may encounter increased maintenance costs. This may result in unprecedented shutdowns which defeats the objective of providing a continuously operating mine site.

“These crucial factors are sometimes overlooked when project teams tend to look at the smaller picture. Project teams often try to minimise their projects’ capital expenditure, however, they unwittingly increase their costs over the asset’s lifetime.”

“Our company’s mission focuses on the broader goal of providing long-lasting water infrastructure that builds communities. We continuously promote growth and survival because water is the most essential part of life – and that obviously applies to the life of mine sites as well.”

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

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