New Solids Transfer Pump Helps Restoring Full Holding Capacity to Critical Drainage Sump

Bob Spicer, Supavac Canada Inc.
Special collaboration


CVRD Inco Limited's South Mine is a hard rock mine in the heart of the Sudbury mining basin. Presently, this mine extracts over 1 million t annually of rich ore deposits, comprised primarily of nickel and copper base metals. Access to South Mine's underground is gained through both a ramp system and a 1250 m deep shaft. Present reserves will allow for another 8 years of operation, with future expansion expected to push the mine's life to 30 years.

As in most hard rock underground mines there is always a substantial amount of water used for drilling, cutting, washing and regular maintenance plus the normal seepage of ground water. In all cases, this water is pumped or gravity fed back to holding areas with drainage sumps. In this harsh environment, there are always a large amount of fine rock cuttings, residual slimes and mud that build up in the sumps, eventually decreasing the sumps holding capacity for mine waste water. If the sumps are not cleaned of these solids on a regular basis, the material becomes a very dry hard mud referred to as "mine slimes". The only way to clean out the sumps at this point is by using a scoop tram.

In the case of South Mine, a particular sump located on 4130 level was too small to facilitate cleaning by scoop tram. Mark Moffatt, planner for Division 2, had not been able to use this sump to its fullest capacity for over a year because of slime build up. He was looking for way to clean the solids from this sump to regain its full holding capacity.

At the same time, the new Supavac was introduced to Mr. Moffatt. A Guzzla Model SV60 pneumatic displacement vacuum recovery pressure discharge solids transfer pump was just the right pump to handle this job. The setup time was less then one hour and removal of the hard mud like material began. Vacuuming of the mine slimes was done using two 6 m lengths of 7,6 cm suction hose with a Guzzla pickup nozzle and discharging was through 45 m of 10 cm bull hose.

"I have lots of positive response to the new Supavac pump, Mark Moffatt reported. When we did the test on 4130 level, I was totally amazed at how thick the slimes were and that pump sucked it up and out. At the suction end, the slimes where so thick, I was waiting for the line to fill up and plug, but when you looked at the discharge, it was spitting out like muddy water. I was very impressed with the Supavac. I think it has a bright future in the mining industry."

The sump clean out process was quickly completed removing over 40 m3 of mine slimes, restoring the full holding capacity back to Mark's sump.

The patented vacuum recovery and pressure discharge technology is the key to the operation of Supavac pumps. With no rotating parts or electricity and with no moving parts in contact with the flow, extremely high reliability has been the experience. All that is required is a supply of compressed air.

Supavac pumps are designed to reliably handle any flowable sludge and slurry and are ideally suited where submersible, centrifugal and diaphragm pumps have resulted in excessive maintenance and downtime or are not a viable option.

Supavac pumps automatically alternate, depending on the material and setup, to function as an effective high lift vacuum system for most flowable bulk solids, including underwater applications of up to 23 m vertical lifts.

Supavac automatic solids transfer pumps, with capacities from 10 to 60 m3/h and higher, reliably pass fines, hard solids and stringy trash slurries with 7,6 cm solids and larger. Pumps can achieve fluid suction lifts up to 7,6 m dry static and through 60 m horizontal lines, air flow vacuum pneumatic recovery up to 23 m vertical and effective product discharge of up to 900 m horizontal.

Installations include mines, quarries and construction sites; snake pits and upset sumps; digesters and tank cleanout; underwater pipeline cleaning; oil and gas exploration; horizontal drilling; conveyor spillage; lagoons and ponds; bypass pumping; tunneling; pneumatic excavation and conveyance; onsite transfers of over 750 m; intrinsically safe operation for underground and x-p areas.

Applications include abrasive and corrosive slurries; hazardous waste; drilling mud waste and cuttings; rock, sand and ballast; mine tailings and muck; hydrocarbon and viscous sludge; raw effluent; and all types of wet and dry spills.

Units are compact and fully enclosed for zero discharge environmental compliance. Canadian models are manufactured to comply with ASME "U" stamp and CRN pressure vessel regulations. Supavac pump systems are in active service from Australia to the USA and from Chile to the North Sea and are now available for rental and purchase through authorized dealers in Canada.


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