May 23, 2017

Victaulic pipe joining can help mining industry reduce costs

 Victaulic, the world’s leading manufacturer of mechanical pipe-joining systems recently launched the Knife Gate Valve which can save the mining industry millions of rands in labour and maintenance costs.

Victaulic pipe joining solutions offers an alternative to the use of flanges or welding to connect piping systems and drastically reduces the time necessary to install and maintain these connections. “In the current environment of low commodity prices the mining industry is under immense pressure to contain rising costs. At the same time there is still a widely held perception that pipe coupling technology can only be used on a temporary basis, but Victaulic offers a permanent and much more cost-effective alternative,” says Barry van Jaarsveld, Victaulic regional manager for Africa.

Van Jaarsveld says Victaulic’s coupling systems allows mines to install piping systems in 15% of the time it would have taken to install a flanged system. “You need fewer people working on site for a shorter period of time. This not only helps to drastically reduce installation costs, but also reduces health and safety risks.”

AngloGold Ashanti has recently installed two slurry lines at its Stilfontein mine with a total length of 8 kilometres of pipe. Making use of the Victaulic system allowed the company to save 30% on the total installation cost of the piping system.

Impala platinum also recently added shaft #16 to their existing platinum mine in Rustenberg. A traditional flanged joining method would have required extensive pipe end preparation and longer installation times, while welding the galvanized pipe would have been a long and tedious process that resulted in toxic emissions. The use of Victaulic couplings and fittings led directly to reduce installation time by 60% as compared to welded or flanged methods.

Van Jaarsveld says mines need to think about the cost of a project in a more holistic way. “Mines should not only think about the cost of the fittings they are installing, but also consider the cost of labour, potential health and safety risks and the cost transporting workers underground to install pipelines. It is also very important to take into account the opportunity cost of dragging out expansion projects longer than necessary. The sooner a plant can begin operating, the sooner it can start being profitable.”

However, the Victaulic system not only reduces installation costs, but also the cost of maintenance. Van Jaarsveld says the impact of the reduced time necessary to maintain Victaulic’s coupling systems becomes especially evident in cases of unplanned maintenance. “Mines lose money during every minute production has to stand still. For example, a mining client recently told us that every hour his plant stands still effectively costs him R250 000 in lost production. This means that reduced maintenance time when replacing a Victaulic Knife Gate Valve can save him as much as R 687 500 in just one day. Over a year where several cases of unplanned maintenance can occur this number can be much larger.

Victaulic recently launched its Series 795 Knife Gate Valve into the South African market and is showcasing this and other products at at the Electra Mining Show, taking place Nasrec in Johannesburg this week.

The Victaulic knife gate valve has been designed to contain all the parts subject to wear in a single cartridge kit. This cartridge can be swapped out and replaced easily and it is no longer necessary to replace the entire valve. “It can take between 2 and 3 hours to loosen and replace a flange. The Victaulic Knife Gate Valve can be maintained by only replacing the cartridge inside, instead of taking out and replacing the entire valve. This cuts the time necessary to maintain it to between 15 minutes and half an hour,” explains Van Jaarsveld.

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