A mine looking for a solution to improve the performance of their concentrator plant turned to FLSmidth for help. Working together, we improved the plant performance by installing new slurry pumps that run longer between maintenance shutdowns, decrease the time required for maintenance and decrease the risk exposure for site personnel.
Background and objective
A mine in northern Chile needed its critical equipment to be more reliably available to process its required 250,000 tons of ore per day. The slurry pumps inside the mine’s flotation area were a key cause of shutdowns due to natural wear and maintenance requirements.
We discussed the benefits of replacing the pumps with our lined slurryMAX™ pumps and the KREBS® Quick Release™ system to extend the intervals between maintenance shutdowns and reduce the downtime during maintenance.
We proposed replacing one slurry pump in the flotation area with a KREBS® slurryMAX® lined pump and the Quick Release™ system so they could put our claims to the test.
We worked on-site with the customer for years to evaluate the customer’s processes and challenges and to find the right improvement to increase the overall plant performance. After a comprehensive analysis of the site operation, maintenance, equipment availability, rate of equipment wear and options assessments, we concluded that replacing the slurry pump could be a solution to improve the concentrator plant performance.
As a part of their continuous improvement program, the customer chose to carry out a trial of one slurry pump in the flotation area. Their goals were to increase the equipment availability, and reduce maintenance costs and risk exposure.
The new pump would allow the customer to quickly, safely and easily dissemble of the wet end module offsite, causing more equipment availability and safety, lower maintenance costs and longer pump life. In contrast, the previous pump maintenance had to be performed in operating position, causing longer repair times and higher risk to the maintenance personnel.
We presented our improvement proposal to the customer and evaluated it together. The customer decided to replace the current equipment with a slurryMAX® pump. In the place of a pump with metal wear parts, we installed a pump that has rubber wear parts in the wet end module to reduce maintenance costs and extend the equipment life. Thanks to the Quick Release™ system, we helped the customer move from a maintenance strategy of shutting down every time one wear part needed to be replaced, to replacing the full wet end module. This new strategy decreases maintenance time and risk exposure.
This close collaboration between our team and the customer’s areas of planning, execution, reliability and operations, allowed that the first trial module to be installed during 2017. One year later, the trial was closed after meeting all the objectives and exceeding the customer’s expectations.
Thanks to our 136 years of global experience and the deep technical knowledge of our specialists, the replacement and new maintenance strategy was successful. Together with the customer, we reduced maintenance costs by 78%, reduced the on-site spare parts stock 100% and reduced maintenance time and risk exposure time by 66%.
With these results, we forecast that this improvement solution with slurryMAX® pumps in their concentrator plant, could save approximately US$1 million for a 10% investment.
A close collaboration with our customers, our long experience and deep technical knowledge and the way we apply the most advanced development technologies, can generate sustainable productivity enhancements to the mining industry.