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Mine Processing: Tailings & Slurry

Posted by Baker Hughes on Jun 29, 2022 2:36:13 PM

As mines work to meet the global need for raw materials, successful fluid transportation that is cost-effective, easy to implement, and environmentally responsible has become imperative.

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The need for raw materials is increasing everywhere across the globe. More and more, mining operations are surging to meet the demand for both metallic and non-metallic materials. Along with this increased activity comes the responsibility to operate mining operations in an environmentally responsible and safe way.  

One of the biggest concerns at any mining facility is the handling and transportation of fluids used in or accumulated as a byproduct of mining activity. Cost-effective, safe, and easy-to-use piping solutions are mandatory for successful fluid transportation.  


Mining Fluids  

Depending on the type of operation, a variety of fluids and slurries are required. These include potable and desalinated water, industrial water, and tailings. To put some numbers on water usage alone, 4 billion gallons of water were used for mining operations in the U.S. in 2015, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 

Almost every step of most mining processes requires water in some form or another. Most mines reuse water as much as possible. Once utilized, if the water is to be discharged it must be treated first. Treatment technologies vary, but almost always a series of tanks, pipelines, and filtration systems are used to make the water suitable for release. 


Piping Solutions 

Efficient, durable, and cost-effective fluid transportation systems are required at all mines. Pipelines are mandatory for a variety of applications, including dewatering, fire and safety, waste and tailings slurry, transportation of product concentrate, and brine applications. Each fluid type transported carries precise restrictions and unique challenges. Mine tailings and slurries in particular can be highly corrosive and abrasive and need optimal piping solutions. 

For tailings and slurry removal, Baker Hughes recommends its flexible, non-metallic Composite Pipe because of its exceptional resistance to corrosion and erosion. Our pipe has four times greater corrosion and erosion resistance than conventional steel pipe. Composite pipe is spoolable and easy to install. It is a low-cost solution that requires a minimum of maintenance, and a fraction of the connections, that are required for steel and HDPE.  

Also important are the beneficial ESG aspects of using Baker Hughes Composite Pipe. It is estimated to produce a 75 percent smaller overall carbon footprint than steel pipe alternatives. 

Baker Hughes Composite Pipe comes in 4-, 6-, and 8-inches internal diameters. It functions over a temperature range of 150 to 180 degrees F°, and a pressure range of 750 to 2250 psi. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), Nylon, and Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS) internal liner options are available. 


Installation and Cost Brief 

Flexible Composite Pipe is quick and simple to install at your mine site. An electrofusion or swage machine is used to connect the pipe, and therefore no welding or hot work is required. Each connection takes only 10-20 minutes per connection. The simple connection process greatly reduces time and labor costs as compared to steel and HDPE.  

Welding in particular is a complex process that poses many challenges including poor weld quality and inspections, which increase installation time. Given the current shortage of welding capacity globally, finding skilled welders is an obstacle in and of itself.  

Baker Hughes Composite Pipe provides cost-effective solutions for your mining operations. The company's innovative flexible composite pipe is 80% faster and safer to install than both steel and HDPE and has an overall lower OPEX cost of 30-50%.


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Case Studies 

Baker Hughes Composite Pipe is perfect for dewatering applications in mines. An Arizona mining customer had approximately 3650 ft. of 8-inch 750-psi composite pipe installed over a vertical rise of 1000 ft. This required ten 350-ft. reels instead of 183 sticks of HDPE or steel. In addition, Baker Hughes Composite Pipe required only 11 swaged connections, as opposed to 184 hot fusions. What would have taken 2-3 weeks for HDPE or steel, only took 2 days with our composite pipe. The results were that the customer was able to dewater at twice the volume than before using HDPE DR9, and they were able to eliminate a pump station due to the higher-pressure ratings of our composite pipe.  

In addition to the dewatering application, Baker is conducting a tailings paste trial for a customer in Chile. This customer is having to regularly rotate steel pipes due to severe corrosion and erosion issues. Given Baker Hughes’s corrosion and erosion-free flexible pipe, the customer intends to swap out the entire line in order to eliminate maintenance and performance issues in the future.   


Baker Hughes: Your Best Choice 

Baker Hughes’s Composite Pipe is a modern improvement over traditional piping material. It’s backed by over 25 years of research and development, material science, and installation experience in composite pipe systems. It’s a smart solution to improving your mining operations. 

We are active in over 120 countries and have state-of-the-art facilities in Houston and Midland, TX, as well as Saudi Arabia. 


To learn more about how you can improve your mining operations, contact us below.


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