Metso Insights Case studies Mining and metals refining Eliminating pipe patching at Iberpotash
Mining Metals refining
Dec 10, 2019

Eliminating pipe patching at Iberpotash

Iberpotash, the only producer of potash in Spain, needed a solution to overcome the problem of a high rate of wear on a specific HDPE pipe, causing them extra costs. After reaching out to Metso’s experts, Iberpotash management and operational staff were very pleased with the solution provided. By switching to Metso’s slurry hoses, no more patching repairs were needed, the slurry no longer spilled into the environment, process stability drastically improved and HSE increased.
Slurry hose pictured in a mine.

Increasing plant uptime and reducing maintenance costs

Iberpotash is the only producer of potash in Spain and the largest mining company in Catalonia. With two mines in the Barcelona province, which produce around 1 million tonnes per year, Iberpotash has one of the largest potash reserves in Europe. Over 75% of the potash fertilizer it produces for agricultural and industrial use is exported – mainly to the European Union, South America, North Africa and Asia.

The Súria mine is located between 650 and 900 meters below ground. The extraction of potash is conducted by mining sylvinite, a mixture of potash and salt found in varying concentrations. The potash is then separated from the salt at a production plant located near the mine.

In the 2014 expansion project to increase the production of its Súria plant, Iberpotash decided to switch almost all of the existing HDPE pipes to Metso Trellex rubber slurry hoses and coated couplings to reduce the amount of extra maintenance work.

The Metso Trellex Slurry Hose proved to be a suitable, reliable and efficient solution. All the operational people on site were extremely satisfied with the resulting increase in plant uptime, the reduced maintenance costs and repair tasks and the added positive impact on safety.

Technical solution designed specifically for the customer

In 2018, Iberpotash was having a problem with the HDPE mill feed pipe. They reached out to Metso again.

Iberpotash was extremely worried about the high rate of wear on this specific HDPE pipe, as a lot of money was being lost on slurry spillage, patching and extra maintenance work – not to mention the additional health and safety risks this entailed. Every month, employees dedicated many hours to repairing the pipes. Adding up these expenses along with the cost of the materials required for the reparation and it was quickly decided that this couldn’t continue.

This time, Metso proposed a swivel flange hose solution designed specifically for the customer.

“Metso swivel flanges accept higher pressures than standard couplings and allow for specific slurry hose curves in narrow areas. The latter was what was needed here. The swivel flanges would enable us to install the needed S-shape with two 5D Metso bends and a slurry hose within the very limited space that was available,” says Tiago Marques Oliveira, Head of Metso Pumps Sales for market area West Europe.

“Having solved their previous problems and having demonstrated our expertise in slurry transportation, they approved this technical solution, installed it and have now been running problem-free for more than one year,” he continues.

This mainly resulted in an increased uptime and lower maintenance costs because reparations were no longer needed. Moreover, the employees executing the dangerous repair tasks were also very happy that this had been resolved.

Slurry hose attached to its place at Iberpotash site.

No more patching repairs needed

Since Iberpotash switched to Metso’s slurry hoses, no more patching repairs are needed, slurry no longer spills into the environment, process stability has drastically improved and HSE has also increased. The scaffolding that they constantly had in place for the HDPE repairs has been taken away, resulting in a safer, obstacle-free working place.

“Metso was selected because we were happy with the first slurry hoses they supplied back in 2014,” according to Plant Maintenance Manager Pau Anguera and Mechanical Maintenance Manager Albert Diez at the Súria process plant. “We wanted a proper solution for the extreme wear in our HDPE and Metso delivered that. The Metso Trellex solution works perfectly in this kind of application,” they conclude.

Iberpotash is part of ICL (Israel Chemicals Ltd.), a global fertilizer and specialty chemicals company operating Bromine, Potash and Phosphate mineral value chains. The ICL group is one of the world’s largest producers of potash.

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