Blog: Go with the flow

Extending a copper mine’s pump wear life

The Kanmantoo copper mine in South Australia, owned and operated by Hillgrove Resources Limited, was constructed in 2011. Once commissioned, severe wear issues were discovered, causing regular downtime for the whole operation. The hardness of the garnet, together with the high head per stage, was believed to be the major source of abrasive wear. As a result, the cost of maintenance exceeded AUD 1 million during the first year of operation alone.

The wear life of the Kanmantoo pumps was reaching only 120–200 hours, which meant that the mine had to dismantle and rebuild the pumps every ten days, spending a lot of money each time. Additionally, performing the maintenance consumed a huge amount of time, requiring up to 10% of the mine’s maintenance effort and a day’s work from three to four people.

A long-term solution, not a quick fix

Researching the market for available solutions to their problems, Hillgrove Resources reached out to Metso. The team conducted a series of trials and determined that the cause was not with the pumps, but with the system itself. Therefore, Metso recommended adding a third pumping stage to the mine’s existing two stages as a long-term solution.

Metso also took care of the mine’s consignment stock so that Kanmantoo could have a stock of wear parts in its inventory permanently. As part of the Metso way, this demonstrated the company’s commitment in providing long-lasting support.

Many ways of cost savings

This retrofitting project provided numerous benefits for Hillgrove Resources, the most significant of which is the lifetime cost saving achieved. Since multiple pump stages were commissioned, the mine could reduce the head per stage as well as choose from a wider material range for the pumps. More efficient rubber-lined pumps were installed, bringing the lifetime of the previously failing equipment up to an acceptable level while also reducing energy consumption.

Wear life has improved dramatically. Once the first couple of sets of wear parts were installed and hit the mark of over 1,000 hours of operation, it was clear the solution was correct. Today, the life of a pump reaches approximately 1,700 hours, and there are plans to increase it further still. Pump efficiency has risen from 59% to 69%.

The mine now reaches savings in energy reduction of approximately AUD 50,000 per annum thanks to the highly efficient rubber pump hydraulic design. And the savings related to spare parts amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, the mine has reduced operational costs and improved the mean time between failures.  

Collaboration in all stages

The whole case is a great example of Metso’s collaboration with the customer to solve a problem. The high professionalism of the Metso people, the accurate identification of the problem and the fast response with the right solution are several key factors that led to the success. Moreover, by going through each stage of the project as partners, Metso and Hillgrove were able to best optimize the pumping system and achieve truly amazing results together.   

You can read the article 'Increasing pump wear life at a copper mine at Kanmantoo, Australia' in Metso Showroom.


Chris Wyper

Director of Sales, Pumps Business Area

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