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Abrasion Resistance Needed for Slurry Transport in Mining

Posted by Baker Hughes on Nov 20, 2020 11:20:33 AM

Mining costs are rising. In the wake of weak metal costs from 2012 through 2017, mining companies hoped to ride a surge of new investment as prices rose once again. Unfortunately, miners can’t take advantage of the rising cost of metals if their equipment and extraction costs rise at the same time. Further, as ore grades decline, these costs will inevitably increase.

A report from Deloitte shows that the weighted average head grades for nickel, copper, and gold dropped by 30%, 40%, and 10% respectively between 2001 and 2012. In gold mining projects, companies can sift through a ton of rock before finding a single gram of valuable metal. Meanwhile, mining companies try to correct and end up devoting significant labor and equipment costs to marginal veins.

For mining ventures to be successful, they need to be able to control the cost of developing new assets by finding equipment alternatives that perform as well as traditional measures at a lower cost. To this end, Thermoflex Reinforced Thermoplastic Pipe (RTP) offers cost savings without sacrificing productivity or equipment lifespan.

Why Find Alternatives for Your Slurry Transport Pipeline?

Traditional steel slurry pipelines can represent a cost center for mining operations. Although low-carbon steel is very strong and easy to fabricate, and the cost of pipeline transport is cheaper than road or rail, steel has a problem: it corrodes and abrades, and ore slurry is both abrasive and corrosive. If you opt for a steel-wall pipe, you’re going to have to monitor it carefully for damage or leaks, and most likely you’ll need to replace segments often, resulting in productivity loss and material expenses.

One alternative to steel pipe is High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) pipe. This has a much greater corrosion resistance than steel at a lower cost. It’s also readily available, and it’s much easier to install and transport.

The last alternative is a steel-walled pipe with an HDPE lining. The liner protects the steel from abrasion and corrosion, and the steel prevents the HDPE from expanding and weakening—thus seemingly offering the best of both worlds. Although this combination makes up for the physical weaknesses of both materials, it is more expensive, harder to find, more difficult to install and maintain, and so on.

RTP Offers Abrasion Resistance for Mining Slurry at a Lower Cost

Thermoflex, Thermoflex Plus, and Thermoflex Plus RT offer a lower cost than steel pipe or steel-lined HDPE, but with superior corrosion resistance. Our core design is a five-layer product including a nylon liner, an HDPE base, and an Aramid reinforcement layer.

While the HDPE layer offers corrosion resistance, the nylon inner layer is two to three times more resistant in turn. It will resist permeation for much longer than HDPE on its own, while the Aramid fiber layer—which offers an extremely high strength to weight ratio—adds additional protection against expansion. This engineering means that the pipe will last for its entire designed lifetime, even if the slurry passing through it hasn’t been de-rated for hydrocarbons.

There are additional benefits as well. Unlike steel pipe, Thermoflex is flexible to a certain degree. In some cases, this means that it can be installed along the ground and over difficult terrain without the use of pipe supports. This removes a level of cost and makes the pipe easier to install in remote areas.

In short, Thermoflex is cheaper to purchase, easier to install, and has a longer operating lifespan than common alternatives in the mining industry.

Contact us today for more information about how to purchase this material for your mining or resource extraction operation!

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